Wayne State University

Interdisciplinary Research

Recent initiatives by federal funding agencies, national professional organizations, and universities around the country affirm that interdisciplinarity is a growing priority in the academy. Both the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice President for Research are committed to enhancing interdisciplinary activities across Wayne State’s campus.

  • About

    Heightened interest in interdisciplinarity at funding agencies, national professional organizations, and universities around the country affirms its growing importance. Many key topics today are interdisciplinary, including cancer, sustainability, and inequality. New research on the mind, the body, the family, the earth, and the solar system is blurring traditional boundaries, while new understandings of language, culture, and history are transforming research and education. New tools and concepts are also borrowed daily across sciences, social science, humanities, and the professions. And, interdisciplinary fields and hybrid interdisciplines continue to emerge.

    Individuals and teams engage in interdisciplinary research (IDR) for many reasons, but authors of an authoritative report from the National Academies of Science highlight four major intrinsic and extrinsic drivers:

    1. the inherent complexity of nature and society,
    2. the desire to explore problems and questions that are not confined to a single discipline
    3. the need to solve societal problems
    4. the power of new technologies.

    Committee on Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine. (2004). Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research, p. 2. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.

  • Getting started

    The Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) are committed to enhancing interdisciplinary activities across Wayne State University. To support that initiative, they have sponsored development of this website, with initial priority on the research mandate of the OVPR. This site is a support tool with two main purposes: to provide authoritative definitions and to support projects and programs with Annotated Bibliographies of resources and Coaching and Training Modules.

    Definitions: a baseline vocabulary for interdisciplinarity and authoritative definitions to use in proposals, projects, and programs

  • Annotated bibliographies and coaching and training modules

    The Annotated Bibliographies highlight key literature and other online resources. The Coaching and Training Modules annotate key resources and provide tips for using them. They have several purposes:

    • to expand individual knowledge
    • to mentor and coach others
    • to anchor discussion and group learning in authoritative materials
    • to incorporate resources into workshops, colloquia, short courses and training units

    Users are welcome to download the PDF files and copy them, or use them directly from this site.

    * Created by Julie Thompson Klein, faculty fellow for Interdisciplinary Development in the Division of Research and professor of Humanities in Wayne State University's English Department, and Kendall Soucie, Team Science coordinator for the Diabetes and Obesity Team Science (DOTS) Multidisciplinary Group Incubator.

    Annotated Bibliographies

    Beginning Bibliography on Interdisciplinarity: includes introductions and overviews, strategies for change, scholarly studies, and key works in science and technology, social sciences, and humanities. Annotated Bibliography.

    Resources for Interdisciplinary Education: includes places to start, overviews of practice, pedagogy and learning, textbooks for students, learning assessment, and tips for finding resources in particular domains. Annotated Bibliography.

    Coaching and Training Modules

    Barriers and Strategies: identifies common barriers and disincentives along with strategies and mechanisms for overcoming them. Step 1 describes annotated bibliographies and training modules on this OVPR site. Step 2 highlights materials from key works focused on barriers and strategies. Coaching and Training Module.

    Education and Training: includes introductions and overviews, best practices, learning outcomes and criteria for learning assessment, as well as online and grounded training modules and courses with sample syllabi and course descriptions. Emphasizes team science in a Coaching and Training Module.

    Evaluation: includes introductions and overviews, international models from major evaluation projects, resources with useful graphics, curriculum models and learning assessment. Coaching and Training Module.

    Tenure and Promotion [T&P]: includes overviews, guidelines and lessons from experience, and further readings and other resources. Coaching and Training Module.

    Resources for Team Science: includes introductions and overviews, strategies for successful collaborations, evaluation, training and continuing professional development, and ways to find more resources and stay up to date. Combined Annotated Bibliography and Coaching and Training Module.