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Canadian Science Policy Centre | Panel 510 - Enabling Interdisciplinarity for the Next Generation of Problem Solvers

Panel 510 - Enabling Interdisciplinarity for the Next Generation of Problem Solvers

Conference Day: 
Day 2 - November 8th 2018
Takeaways and recommendations: 

Enabling interdisciplinary for the next generation of problem solvers

Organized by: College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada, Steven Cooke

Speakers: Dr. Shohini Ghose, Professor, Physics and Computer Science; Director, Centre for Women in Science (WinS); Vice-President Elect, Canadian Association of Physicists; Dr. Vivian Nguyen, 2017-18 Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellow, Office of the Chief Scientist at Natural Resources Canada; Andrea Reid, PhD Candidate, University of British Columbia and Carleton University

Moderator: Steven Cooke, Canada Research Chair and Professor, Institute of Environmental and Interdisciplinary Sciences at Carleton University

Takeaways and recommendations

  • Interdisciplinary, which cuts across the disciplines, must include participation from social scientists.

  • Effective interdisciplinarity requires that you explore new methods, be humble and be open to learning new things.

  • To promote inclusion, introduce collaborative projects in STEM and focus on team dynamics and working with others.

  • Focus on how other disciplines can inform your project, and broaden your perspectives and learning theories.

  • Government needs to be more science savvy and academia needs to better understand policy development.

  • To deal with complex problems we need “interdisciplinarians” who can draw from many expert disciplines.

  • Work to understand the barriers to interdisciplinary work and how to overcome them.

  • Screening questions can sometimes be barriers to hiring interdisciplinary experts.

  • The current grants programs are specific and don’t promote interdisciplinary work and most scientific publications are discipline specific. We need to create a system that promotes inclusion of different disciplines.

  • Institutions are labelling and streaming students too early.

  • Emphasize more indigenous education in STEM.

  • Make interdisciplinary normal and integrated.

  • Expand your network and experiences for new ideas.

  • Integrate art into STEM and embrace failures.

  • Go to seminars outside your department and expose yourself to other disciplines.

  • Explain your work to others and think about what interests them.

  • Demonstrate the value of interdisciplinary work.

  • Have a mentor outside your department and have students work in other departments.

  • Value activities outside of scientific publishing. There are opportunities to inform the government on issues of concern. Become a trusted advisor who can be called upon to provide advice on current issues.

  • Learn how to handle science policy when it becomes a political issue. Challenges remain when you want to set an agenda.

  • Respond to requests promptly and remain relevant. Respond to what they want not your own agenda. Work to co-design an agenda.

  • Bring credibility, independence and good communications to advance your influence. Do not receive funds from political parties and ensure you have a clean reputation.

  • Scientists are more likely to promote change if you provide examples of what has worked. Pilot projects are great ways to demonstrate potential.

  • Write opinion pieces in newspapers to influence public opinion.