Employing Model-Based Reasoning in Socio-Environmental Synthesis (EMBeRS)

The EMBeRS Graduate Education Model

The EMBeRS Graduate Education Model draws on learning, cognition, and social theories to develop and test model-based reasoning approaches to integrative cross-disciplinary activities. We propose that model-based reasoning ignites the 'embers' of the mind, lighting the fire of interdisciplinary synthesis that leads to successful integrative teamwork.

Model-based reasoning theory posits that humans reason by constructing an internal mental model of the situations, events, and processes that they encounter, and that external representations can be used to facilitate construction of these mental models. External representations include the use of analogies, metaphor, visual models, diagrams and/or other representations for abstraction and communication of complex concepts. In a team setting, these external representations are called boundary negotiating objects. This project is creating new approaches that place researchers/students from different disciplines in multidisciplinary teams and facilitates a structured, participatory process that includes a progression of individual and group model-based reasoning activities, including purposeful co-creation of boundary negotiating objects.

The project trains faculty from multiple institutions to use the model and works with them to implement the approaches their courses. Survey, interview, and digital data are collected to examine how graduate students respond. In addition, doctoral students from multiple institutions learn together through two-week summer experiences; students who are conducting research in conjunction with larger interdisciplinary teams are targeted.

The model includes includes: