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Making Interdisciplinarity Work Stephanie Pfirman Barnard College, Columbia University Director of Interdisciplinary Initiatives Co-PI NSF Columbia Earth.

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Presentation on theme: "Making Interdisciplinarity Work Stephanie Pfirman Barnard College, Columbia University Director of Interdisciplinary Initiatives Co-PI NSF Columbia Earth."— Presentation transcript:

1 Making Interdisciplinarity Work Stephanie Pfirman Barnard College, Columbia University Director of Interdisciplinary Initiatives Co-PI NSF Columbia Earth Institute Advancing Women in the Sciences President, Council of Environmental Deans and Directors 1 Chronicle 2005

2 “Five Minds for the Future” Howard Gardner, 2007 “The ability to knit together information from disparate sources into a coherent whole is vital today. …Nobel Prize-winning physicist Gell-Mann has asserted that the mind most at a premium in the twenty- first century will be the mind that can synthesize well.” … “Perhaps the most ambitious form of synthesis occurs in interdisciplinary work.” (emphasis in the original) 2

3 … 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics Elinor Ostrom, professor of political science  “She’s a political scientist, definitely, but she’s so big that she spills over into being an economist as well … she’s everywhere” “Economists want this to be an economist’s prize.”  Ostrom’s award was perhaps more of a shock to economists because of her background in political science than because of her gender CNNMoney.com 3

4 Outline Who is engaging in interdisciplinarity? How do people approach interdisciplinarity? What are the consequences of engaging in interdisciplinarity? What can individuals do to overcome interdisciplinary challenges? What can institutions do to build interdisciplinary capacity? 4

5 5 Issues Associated/Conflated with D-ID Disciplinary Departmental Hierarchical Mainstream Specialized Discovery Specialization Laser Basic Established Majority Interdisciplinary Interdepartmental Collaborative Non-mainstream Diverse Integration, Application Integration Searchlight Applied New Minority UWisc Leahey Boyer Gardner Porter et al. Rhoten and Pfirman Pfirman and Martin, in press

6 WHO IS ENGAGING IN INTERDISCIPLINARITY? 6

7 0%50%100% % respondents 0%50%100% % respondents 0%50%100% % respondents 0%50%100% % respondents US -- % Time Devoted to IDR?

8 UK % Time on Interdisciplinary Research 8 Responses from 5,505 researchers in higher education institutions in the United Kingdom, Evaluation Associates, 1999 Medical and Biological Sciences Physical and Engineering Sciences Social Sciences Arts and Humanities

9 Lifecycle/Cohort % Time Spent on Interdisciplinary Research 9 Women 1.1x Junior Women1.4x Jr Women not PE1.7x Evaluation Associates, 1999: Research Assessment in the United Kingdom Medical and Biological Sciences Physical and Engineering Sciences Social Sciences Arts and Humanities All

10 Disciplinary Stereotypes ________________________________ 1. Quantitative 2. Qualitative 3. Concerned about others 4. Communal 5. Tough 6. Self-driven 7. Independent 8. Nice 9. Assertive 10. Welfare orientation 11. Self-promoting 12. Helpful 13. Collaborative 14. Careerist 15. Risky science 16. Mainstream science 17. Consensus style 18. Task oriented 19. Socially sensitive 20. Synthesis 21. Quick to publish 22. Productive 23. Multitasking 24. Focused 25. Competitive 26. Societal good 27. Friendly 28. Democratic leadership 29. Hierarchical leadership 10 ________________________________ InterdisciplinaryStereotypes

11 Characteristics of Disciplinary vs. Collaborative, Interdisciplinary Scientists … Disciplinary Quantitative Tough Self-driven Independent Assertive Self-promoting, take credit for successes Careerist Risky science within the mainstream/consensus science Focused, task oriented Quick to publish, get ideas out Productive Competitive Command-and-control leadership (e.g. lab hierarchy) Collaborative, Interdisciplinary Relational, qualitative Friendly, nice Concerned about others and their welfare Helping Socially sensitive, listening Communal Less careerist Interdisciplinary science Multitasking Synthesis Not competitive Consensus oriented, democratic leadership 11 Which side looks like an easier tenure case?

12 Interdisciplinary researchers do not tend to specialize, while disciplinary researchers do 12 Measuring researcher interdisciplinarity Alan L. Porter, Alex S. Cohen, David Roessner and Marty Perreault, 2007, ScientometricsScientometrics Gardner’s Synthesizing Mind?

13 13 Measuring researcher interdisciplinarity Alan L. Porter, Alex S. Cohen, David Roessner and Marty Perreault, 2007, ScientometricsScientometrics

14 Evolution toward ID, or ID from outset? “Knowing when and how to bring interdisciplinary work into one’s career is a question for many researchers. Kinzig notes that many scientists feel strongly that students should become expert in one discipline before crossing boundaries. But, she adds, “I think we have an increasing number of students who aren’t that interested in being disciplinary. I think if I had had to focus narrowly within a particular discipline, I would not have finished graduate school. I just would have gotten bored.”’ 14 NATURE|Vol 443|21 September 2006

15 ID Training 15 Structuring Curricular Content / Career Trajectory DisciplinaryInterdisciplinary Bloom's Taxonomy? FunnelFanSandwichBuffet IntroductoryD or IDDID Knowledge, Comprehension IntermediateDID or DDID Application, Analysis CapstoneDID Synthesis, Evaluation Pfirman, 2008

16 HOW DO PEOPLE APPROACH INTERDISCIPLINARITY? 16

17 ID Research, Teaching, Administration 17 Rhoten and Pfirman, 2007a,b Cross-fertilization – adapting and using ideas, approaches and information from different fields and/or disciplines Team-collaboration – collaborating in teams or networks that span different fields and/or disciplines Field-creation – topics that sit at the intersection or edges of multiple fields and/or disciplines Problem-orientation – problems that engage multiple stakeholders and missions outside of academe, for example that serve society Intrapersonal: Cognitive Connections Interpersonal: Collegial Connections Inter- departmental: Cross-field Connections Stakeholder: Community Connections

18 Cognitive Connections 18 Evaluation Associates, 1999 Women 1.3x

19 Collegial Connections 19 Evaluation Associates, 1999 Ways of working of researchers involved in ID research (%)

20 20 Hollingsworth 2001 Connect: theoretician, methodologist, scientist highly conversant with literature in various fields, scientist highly competent in the latest instrumentation in diverse fields

21 WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF ENGAGING IN INTERDISCIPLINARITY? 21

22 Lifecycle: Positive and Negative Aspects PositiveNegative Junior Tenure/ Promotion Senior 22

23 Promise and Perils of Interdisciplinary Research Often Early Attraction …But Later difficulties … New areaCan break new ground Less competition Less urgency Lack of recognition by established scholars Lack of funding opportunities Lack of journals Lack of peer reviewers Career trajectory not known Long start up time No one to correct flaws Social/Applied Connections Appeals to social conscience Connect with public good Less prestigious research area Complex questions Holistic approach requiredLess amenable to theory CollaborativeBuild on strengths of others Use people skills Time to cultivate and maintain Critical literature in other field Dependent on collaborator Idea origin not clear Between Depts/Centers Freedom because outside of established hierarchy No one has responsibility for you Inter- institutional Broadens network for letter writers Requires travel Less visibility on home campus

24 Promise and Perils of Interdisciplinary Education and Community Often Early Attraction … But Later difficulties … TeachingExciting subject Student interest Co-teaching Field experiences Service learning <= No textbook, resources Lack of infrastructure to sustain “ extra ” duties (note Theater) Campus LifeCampus programming Community connections Bridge betw disciplines: search committees, presentations Become known on campus Everyone wants a piece of you Scholarly Participation Field more open, can initiate programs Few high level, prestigious committees Not as many honors in interdisciplinary fields Promotion and Tenure Criteria often disadvantage interdisciplinary scholars Pfirman, Martin et al.,

25 25 “Are there impediments to interdisciplinary research at your current institution?” Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research, 2004, Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) Convocation

26 Small Differences in Promotional Steps Add Up Over time 26

27 Diverse Academics Less Productive than those who Specialize 27 Note: The diverse scholar has a specialization score of.58, the 25 th and 75 th percentiles, respectively, of the distribution of specialization scores. Leahey et al Gendered academic careers: Specializing for success? Social Forces, 85, 3,

28 Women Specialize Less , Gender & Society

29 ID Leads to Identity Issues The Central Source of Faculty Identity is the Discipline 29 “Each of us has had the experience of feeling as though we do not ‘really’ belong to the research team, or that, upon returning to our scholarly ‘homes’ after a research meeting, we do not really belong there either. Working at the boundaries of communities of practice, team members can feel uprooted, alien, frustrated. … (Lingard et al., 2007). … while their peers establish identity and status within the discipline, interdisciplinary scholars have to “live without the comfort of expertise” (Lattuca, 2001)

30 Expertise and Status Wittenbaum and Bowman, 2005 “Cognitively central” members expected to hold higher-status position and dominate discussion more than “cognitively peripheral” members

31 Communication of “Shared” vs. “Unshared” Information 31 Shared information evaluated as more important, relevant Members value shared information and those who contribute it because that information can be verified as correct Wittenbaum and Bowman, 2005

32 Communication of Unshared Information Unshared information communicated by high- status member is more likely to be repeated, remembered and shared than if communicated by low-status member  Members judged by others as competent are afforded opportunity and credibility necessary for emphasizing unshared information Unshared information mentioned by low-status members is not remembered and repeated to the same extent: perhaps met with some skepticism and perhaps valued less Wittenbaum and Bowman, 2005 Non- mainstream/ Inter- disciplinary

33 Study of Faculty Worklife at the University of Wisconsin-Madison “Non-Mainstream” = Lack of Value Study of Faculty Worklife at the University of Wisconsin-Madison 33 Non-mainstream lack of value1.9x Colleagues solicit my opinion about workColleagues value my research Faculty Perceptions of Colleagues’ Valuation of Research

34 Faculty Perception of Colleagues’ Valuation of Research by Gender and Department Chair Study of Faculty Worklife at the University of Wisconsin-Madison 34 Women 1.2x

35 Faculty Perception of Colleagues’ Valuation of Research by Faculty of Color and Majority Faculty Study of Faculty Worklife at the University of Wisconsin-Madison 35 Non-majority 1.2x

36 Faculty who describe their research as "non-mainstream" responded more negatively to all items than their colleagues doing "mainstream" research Workplace Interactions:  The Faculty Worklife survey asked faculty to evaluate the quality of their workplace interactions along five thematic dimensions: respect in the workplace, informal departmental interactions, colleagues' valuation of research, isolation and "fit," and departmental decision-making. Cause vs. effect? 36 Study of Faculty Worklife at the University of Wisconsin-Madison: N = 1,338.

37 WHAT CAN INDIVIDUALS DO TO OVERCOME ID CHALLENGES? 37

38 CV Publication Annotation CV Publication Annotation? PNAS: Authors must indicate their specific contributions to the published work. … Examples of designations include:  Designed research  Performed research  Contributed new reagents or analytic tools  Analyzed data  Wrote the paper Nature: “Authors are required to include a statement of responsibility in the manuscript that specifies the contribution of every author.”  T.J. and U.H.v.A. designed the study;  T.J., E.A.M., M.I., S.M. and P.A.L. performed experiments;  T.J., E.A.M., M.I. and S.M. collected and analysed data;  M.B., K.F., N.C.D.P., D.M.S., N.v.R. and S.P.W. provided reagents and mice;  T.J., E.A.M., M.I. and U.H.v.A. wrote the manuscript; S.M.,  K.F., S.E.H., T.M. and S.P.W. gave technical support and conceptual advice. 38

39 Develop ID Expertise and Recognition 39 Measuring researcher interdisciplinarity Alan L. Porter, Alex S. Cohen, David Roessner and Marty Perreault, 2007, ScientometricsScientometrics “…dilettantes who knew too little and claimed too much” Lattuca (2001) “… combine previously unrelated ideas into new assemblages, as well as the capacity to evaluate ideas … “ Rhoten et al., 2009

40 Develop a Focused Research Strategy Draft a research plan  Include several, but not too many, synergistic projects (maybe 3?)  Create a conceptual model/cartoon to help frame and communicate research  Develop a timeline with dates of meetings, deadlines for RFPs, etc. 40

41 Conceptual models as tools for communication across disciplines Conceptual models as tools for communication across disciplines Heemskerk, M., K. Wilson, and M. Pavao-Zuckerman Conservation Ecology 7(3): 8.

42 Planning Can Work “… postdoctoral scholars who had crafted explicit plans with their adviser at the outset of their appointments were more satisfied with their experience than those who had not. In addition to subjective measures of success, postdoctoral scholars with written plans  submitted papers to peer-reviewed journals at a 23% higher rate  first-author papers at a 30% higher rate, and  grant proposals at a 25% higher rate  than those without written plans.” From NAS Bias Report 2006: G Davis (2005). Optimizing the Postdoctoral Experience: An Empirical Approach (working paper). Research Triangle Park, NC: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society.

43 WHAT CAN INSTITUTIONS DO TO BUILD INTERDISCIPLINARY CAPACITY? 43 Diana Rhoten, 2009

44 Structural Possibilities Stability (40-50) with subgroups (10-15 researchers), some flux (<5 yrs), resources, diversity Rhoten, 2003  Centers Bozeman and Corley  Cross-cutting initiatives Columbia Earth Institute  Seminars/journal clubs/lunch! Hollingsworth, 2001 Committee/Vice Provost  ID Research, Education, Human Resources 44

45 45 Search and Hiring: I can't tell you how many times I have reviewed searches in which the people— predominantly women and minority-group members—were not hired, because they didn't “fit”. -Angelica Stacy, Professor of Chemistry and Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Equity, University of California, Berkeley (2006) “Narrow position specifications also affect the applicant pool and the numbers of women hired. There is mounting evidence that women are choosing to work at the boundaries of disciplines. … As part of its diversity initiative, UCB has started to hold some full-time equivalent (FTE) faculty positions centrally to encourage groups of faculty and departments to pool resources and propose hires in new multidisciplinary research areas. The University of Wisconsin, Madison and a number of other institutions have similar central-hire or cohire programs based on a commitment to enhance interdisciplinary research. Those policies counteract the tendency of departments to hire people to fill the mainstream slots, rather than moving the institutions forward into new fields. To accomplish the latter, institutional leadership is important.” Beyond Bias and Barriers, NAS 2006: p. 5-7,8

46 CEDD 2007: Interdisciplinary Hiring, Tenure and Promotion: Guidance for Individuals and Institutions CEDD 2007: Interdisciplinary Hiring, Tenure and Promotion: Guidance for Individuals and Institutions LIFE CYCLE: Issues and recommendations Sample language (case studies) Links to resources Structural Considerations Position creation and institutional acceptance Search and hiring Junior development, mentoring and protection Dossier preparation and evaluation (3 rd, 5 th year reviews, tenure) Senior development

47 Support Multiple Levels of ID Res & Ed 47 Rhoten and Pfirman, 2007a,b “New directions” sabbaticals Course development Multiple authors, PIs Co-teaching Centers Joint majors, linked courses Research practice, applications Civic engagement Intrapersonal: Cognitive Connections Interpersonal: Collegial Connections Inter- departmental: Cross-field Connections Stakeholder: Community Connections

48 Identify Institutional Commitment to IDR Commitment and Investments ModestIntermediateSignificant Students and Curriculum Minor, Gen Ed. Option Concentration, Special Major Major, Gen Ed Req. AdministrationCommitteeCenter, ProgramInterdisciplinary Department FacultyAffiliated Hire in Disciplinary Department, Adjunct Off-ladder, Joint Hire Tenure-track in Interdisciplinary Department Research Scientists Soft-money Support for Single or Short- term Project Multi-year Support Institution- committed Career Interdisciplinary Research Scientist Line 48

49 Recognize Issues with Joint-Appointment, Junior, Tenure-Track Hires Even if the chairs are committed and all agreements are put in writing, what happens to the junior hire when the chairs rotate off?  Burden on junior hire to figure out how the units will get along Department does not feel as responsible for hires sponsored by another source as they do when they invest their own resources at the outset  “If they were really good enough, they would have been hired the regular way” 49 Art Small, III “You don’t adopt a child to sort through whether or not you want a marriage”

50 Women More Likely to Hold Joint Appointments (at UC Berkeley) Women tend to hold joint appointments in business, biology, law, city and regional planning, economics, and environmental science. In one of the newer departments, bioengineering, half of the faculty are women. When the biological sciences were restructured to include broad, multidisciplinary approaches, the proportion of women faculty increased to 50%. 50 Beyond Bias and Barriers, NAS 2006: p. 5-7,8 % STEM Faculty Holding Joint Appointments Women 1.7x Cross-Field

51 Craft Individual MOUs Drafted before the search begins Completed and signed by all for the hire letter Reviewed at each review stage Included in the tenure dossier 51

52 52 Confront the Tenure/Promotion Issue Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research, 2004, Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) Convocation Maybe Change Tenure Criteria? Discovery, Integration, Application, and Teaching Boyer: Scholarship Reconsidered, Priorities of the Professoriate (1990)

53 Conclusions We have responsibilities for the people we hire and teach – need to  create a culture,  implement procedures and oversight, and  allocate and maintain resources that will allow interdisciplinary scholars and students to thrive and prosper 53


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