Challenges of Boundary Crossing in Graduate Training for Coupled Human-Natural Systems Research
Most National Science Foundation Coupled Human Natural Systems projects entail graduate training. This chapter discusses the complex terrain of training and mentorship for collaborative research that crosses disciplinary, transdisciplinary, and cultural/geographic boundaries. We argue that the training process itself entails many boundary-crossing challenges within the academic environment. We use as a case study the Integrative Conservation Ph.D. program at the University of Georgia, a unique program dedicated to advancing interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research in conservation and sustainability. We draw parallels to the thematic issues that cross-cut the contributions to this volume, and explore effective pedagogical innovations, organizational strategies, pitfalls, and insights for crossing intra-academic boundaries to provide Ph.D. training for the next generation of boundary-crossing scientists.
The ideas and views herein were inspired by stimulating collaboration and camaraderie with many individuals associated with the ICON Ph.D. program and the Center for Integrative Conservation Research (CICR) at the University of Georgia. Pete Brosius, Laura German, Nik Heynen, Cathy Pringle, Jenn Rice, and Meredith Welch-Devine have been at the core of ICON efforts, and many other ICON and CICR Affiliates have contributed immensely. We thank all the ICON students, who continue to the shape of the program through their experience and thoughtful feedback. We thank UGA’s leadership (deans and staff at several levels) for their generous support, guidance, and patience through the cross-boundary challenges. We also thank Talley Vodicka, for her expert program support, feedback, and intellectual contributions in all ICON endeavors. King extends gratitude to her collaborators at the intersection of ICON, CICR, and an NSF-sponsored CNH research project: Laura German, Ryan Unks, and Gabriele Volpato. Their project was supported by the US National Science Foundation (Grant No. 1313659) and conducted with permission of the Government of Kenya (Permit NCST/RRI/12/1/MAS/108). We also thank Arun Agrawal for the invitation to participate in the symposium at the 2017 Association of American Geographers meeting, which led to this edited volume, and Stephen Perz for spearheading its preparation.
- Brister, E. (2016). Disciplinary Capture and Epistemological Obstacles to Interdisciplinary Research: Lessons from Central African Conservation Disputes. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 56, 82–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Epstein, A. W., & Stein, A. (2014). Rivers and Dams: A Multiplayer Role-Play Game That Promotes Learning in Collaboration and Team-Oriented Communication. Seventh Symposium on Engineering and Liberal Education, Union College, Schenectady, NY (abstract available at https://cpb-us-w2.wpmucdn.com/muse.union.edu/dist/e/218/files/2014/2007/2014-ELE-Symposium-Program.pdf, p. 2021).
- Kolata, G. (2016, July 14). So Many Research Scientists, So Few Professorships (p. A3). New York Times.Google Scholar
- National Science Board. (2016). Science and Engineering Indicators 2016. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation.Google Scholar
- NRC (National Research Council). (2014). Convergence: Facilitating Transdisciplinary Integration of Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering, and Beyond. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
- Perz, S. G. (2016). Crossing Boundaries for Collaboration: Conservation and Development Projects in the Amazon. New York, NY: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
- Weissmann, J. (2013). How Many Ph.D.’s Actually Get to Become College Professors? The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/02/how-many-phds-actually-get-to-become-college-professors/273434/.