Eight grand challenges in socio-environmental systems modeling

By Sondoss Elsawah and Anthony J. Jakeman As we enter a new decade with numerous looming social and environmental issues, what are the challenges and opportunities facing the scientific community to unlock the potential of socio-environmental systems modeling? What is socio-environmental systems modelling? Socio-environmental systems modelling: involves developing and/or applying models to investigate complex problems …

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Effectively including online participants in onsite meetings

By Participants in the SESYNC Theme “Building Resources for Complex, Action-Oriented Team Science” With increasing interest in online participation in workshops, meetings and classes, are there useful protocols to ensure that online participation is effective? Mixed onsite-online meetings are probably the hardest to manage well. How can you effectively include online participants, so that they …

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Synthesis of knowledge about participatory modeling: How a group’s perceptions changed over time

By Rebecca Jordan How do a group’s perceptions change over time, when members across a range of institutions are brought together at regular intervals to synthesize ideas? Synthesis centers have been established to catalyze more effective cross-disciplinary research on complex problems, as described in the blog post ‘Synthesis centers as critical research infrastructure‘, by Andrew …

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Leading large transdisciplinary projects

By Sanford D. Eigenbrode, Lois Wright Morton, and Timothy Martin What’s required to lead exceptionally large projects involving many dozens of participants from various scientific disciplines (including biophysical, social, and economic), multiple stakeholders, and efforts spanning a gamut from discovery to implementation? Such projects are common when investigating social-ecological systems which are inherently complex and …

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To read or not to read…

By Gabriele Bammer This is the second annual “state of the blog” review. Why are you reading this? That sounds like an aggressive question, but it’s not meant to be. It’s a prelude to asking: is the blog serving a useful purpose for you? If so, what is it doing right? If not, what could …

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Three lessons from statistics for interdisciplinarians and fellow travellers

By Gabriele Bammer In last week’s blog post on recognising interdisciplinary expertise I argued that forming a new i2S discipline could help embed interdisciplinarity and related approaches (transdisciplinarity, systems thinking, action research, T-shaped research and others) in the academic mainstream. But how would such a discipline work? What are the challenges to establishing an i2S …

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Recognising interdisciplinary expertise

By Gabriele Bammer Could we overcome the challenges of embedding interdisciplinarity in the academic mainstream if relevant expertise were defined and recognized as a new discipline? What is this relevant expertise? Here I consider team-based interdisciplinarity addressing complex societal and environmental problems and argue that it needs specific expertise over and above that contributed by …

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Are more stakeholders better?

By Eleanor Sterling Participatory modeling, by definition, involves engaging “stakeholders” in decision making. But determining which stakeholders to involve, when, and how is a delicate balance. Early writings on stakeholder engagement methods represent engagement along a linear continuum from non-participatory to citizen-controlled decision making. Non-participatory methods could include stakeholders passively receiving pre-set information, with no …

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Let’s stop measuring and start improving

By Louise Locock When we’re trying to improve the experience of health care, social care and other services users, is there a fast, rigorous way to include their perspectives that doesn’t involve repeatedly collecting new data from them and their families? Measuring, understanding and improving people’s experience of services has become a priority. There is …

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Sharing mental models is critical for interdisciplinary collaboration

By Jen Badham and Gabriele Bammer What is a mental model? How do mental models influence interdisciplinary collaboration? What processes can help tease out differences in mental models? Mental models Let’s start with mental models. What does the word ‘chair’ mean to you? Do you have an image of a chair, perhaps a wooden chair …

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Synthesis centers as critical research infrastructure

By Andrew Campbell When we think of research infrastructure, it is easy to associate astronomers with telescopes, oceanographers with research vessels and physicists with particle accelerators. But what sort of research infrastructure (if any) do we need in order to do more effective multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research on big, complex, ‘wicked’ challenges like climate …

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Toolkits for transdisciplinary research

By Gabriele Bammer If you want to undertake transdisciplinary research, where can you find relevant concepts and methods? Are there compilations or toolkits that are helpful? I’ve identified eight relevant toolkits, which are described briefly below and in more detail in the journal GAIA’s Toolkits for Transdisciplinarity series. One toolkit provides concepts and methods relevant …

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