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Fundamental Challenges to Transdisciplinary Research in Higher Education

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Imbruce V. Fundamental Challenges to Transdisciplinary Research in Higher Education. Oral presentation at 2017 SciTS Conference. Clearwater Beach, FL. Jun 14, 2017. Creating An Institutional Culture For Team Science. Online at:

Transdisciplinary research is more commonly understood as a set of goals than processes of how to achieve them. Transdisciplinary efforts that seek to bridge departments, colleges and schools within a university face entrenched structural, intellectual, and inter-personal barriers. This paper uses this threepart characterization to consider the processes being developed at Binghamton University, a highly selective public research university in the State University of New York system, to foster a university wide, coordinated approach to transdisciplinary research. In its fourth year of operation, the Transdisciplinary Areas of Excellence represent five broad areas of research. Each area has a modest budget from the Provost’s Office for seed grants and other kinds of programming that are self-defined by a steering committee of voluntary faculty appointees. To date, about thirty percent of all faculty at Binghamton self-affiliate with the TAE, and a modest investment of just over a half a million dollars in internal seed grants have generated at least $5M in external awards. Furthermore, about 90% of the interdepartmental research projects across the University in 2015-16 have at least one TAE affiliate, showing that this structure has captured the attention of those faculty interested in collaborating outside of their departments in research. However, a self-study shows that while there have been rapid gains and interest developed in this structure, obstacles keep this effort on the margins. This paper will use Binghamton’s experience to better understand how fundamental aspects of academic life and higher education institutions challenge transdisciplinary, collaborative work.



Type of Publication:

Oral presentation


scits 2017 conference, presentation, challenges, transdisciplinary research, higher education

Addresses these goal(s):

  • Provide institutional support for team science
  • Conduct research on/evaluate team science

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Resource created by Jane Hwang on 10/5/2017 3:26:37 PM.

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