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Transdisciplinary Approaches: What They Are and Why They’re Important

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Join us for a webinar series highlighting opportunities and challenges of transdisciplinary approaches within agricultural research. Presented by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the National Agricultural Library, the seminar series will examine strategies for implementing transdisciplinary approaches, team-building and overcoming challenges to encourage the adoption of and training in transdisciplinary systems.

The first webinar in the Transdisciplinary Approaches webinar series, Transdisciplinary Approaches: What They Are and Why They’re Important, will look at what transdisciplinary approaches are, and why they matter. We’ll hear from researchers engaged with transdisciplinary work, institutions that support research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries, and funding opportunities for transdisciplinary programs.


Alison Meadow, University of Arizona
Alison M. Meadow is an Associate Research Professor in the Office of Societal Impact at University of Arizona. Dr. Meadow has a background in environmental anthropology, Indigenous studies and urban planning. Her research focuses on the process of linking scientists with decision makers to improve the usability of climate science, with a particular emphasis on evaluating the societal impacts of engaged climate and environmental research. She is a co-investigator with the Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center (SW CASC) and the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS).

Dan Ferguson, University of Arizona
Dan Ferguson is Director of the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) program and Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Arizona. A human-environment geographer, Dan contributes to and leads inter- and transdisciplinary teams that conduct place-based, problem-oriented environmental research. His teaching focuses on helping undergraduate and graduate students develop the skills and knowledge necessary to work on complex environmental problems in highly collaborative contexts. The overarching goal of his work is cooperative development of relevant and useful knowledge to prepare for and respond to societal problems related to environmental change.

Doug Steele, Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU)
Dr. Steele is Vice President for Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). Through collaborative partnerships with more than 250 member institutions Doug provides leadership with a focus on broad cross-cutting issues related to agriculture, food and fiber, forestry, human sciences, natural resources, and veterinary medicine. Priority areas include advocating yearly on behalf of the agricultural research, extension, and education funding in support of Land-grant and non-Land-grant colleges of agriculture, life sciences and natural resources. Doug believes in the power of public higher-education and the Land-grant University system to provide access and affordability to higher education, increase the profitability of agricultural enterprises and transform families, youth, and communities.

Amy Ganguli, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
Dr. Amy Ganguli serves as a National Program Leader within the Institute of Bioenergy, Climate, and Environment providing leadership for programs involving sustainable agroecosystem management. Prior to joining NIFA, Amy spent nearly 12 years as a teaching and research professor of rangeland ecology and three years as an ecosystem ecologist for a nonprofit organization. She has conducted research on a variety of rangeland restoration techniques and has led several interdisciplinary projects addressing land management effects on ecosystem services, rangeland/soil health with specific emphasis on land potential, and climate change with an emphasis on resilience-based management strategies. She received her Ph.D. in Range Ecology from Oklahoma State University, M.S. in Range Science from Texas Tech University, and a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and Management from the University of Rhode Island.

About the Transdisciplinary Approaches Webinar Series
Many of the problems facing agriculture are multifaceted, and traditional disciplinary boundaries may limit our ability to address them. Additionally, agricultural research has broad implications, affecting economics, social dynamics and the environment. The transdisciplinary approach is a critical tool for tackling agronomic issues. It can address complex challenges that single-disciplinary approaches are not able to solve, increase the likelihood of new practice adoption, and avoid potential unintended consequences of more narrowly investigated findings.

The increased need for large-scale solutions to complex agricultural problems has led to new, large-scale funding opportunities that require applicants to develop transdisciplinary research proposals that tackle program priorities in new ways. However, because of the novel nature of transdisciplinary approaches and challenges associated with transdisciplinary research, adoption of these practices and teams is limited.

This webinar series is targeted at researchers to better understand strategies for implementing transdisciplinary approaches, team building, and overcoming challenges, and university administrators to better support novel transdisciplinary teams and their research.

Other events in this series include:

Stay tuned for more webinars. If you have questions, please contact Dr. Jessica Shade, National Program Leader in the NIFA Institute of Food Production and Sustainability.

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