EMBeRS: A New Method for Igniting Interdisciplinary Learning, Synthesis and Convergence

Thursday 1:45pm Ritchie Hall: 366


Deana Pennington, University of Texas at El Paso
Shirley Vincent, Vincent Evaluation Consulting
Dave Gosselin, University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Rod Parnell, Northern Arizona University
Antje Danielson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Many of humanity's most pressing issues are socio-environmental, and as such, are ill-structured, "wicked" problems. Investigating wicked problems requires a collaborative process that includes researchers from different disciplines and stakeholders with different perspectives. A key challenge in working on these problems is that the problem scope is typically unbounded, the issues are complex and interwoven, and the problem-solving approach can be framed in a multitude of ways. This presentation will outline a new method called EMBeRS (Employing Model-Based Reasoning in Socio-Environmental Synthesis) for facilitating collective learning during the early, formative phases of collaborative problem solving. The EMBeRS method is based on a synthesis of learning, cognitive, and social theories, including: 1) constructivism, 2) experiential learning, 3) model-based reasoning, 4) boundary negotiating, 5) epistemic objects, and 6) distributed cognitive systems. This presentation will describe the EMBeRS method and its theoretical basis, its pilot application in a ten day workshop for PhD students nationwide held in 2016 and 2017, and the results from evaluation of the workshop. The workshop facilitated students working in teams to formulate interdisciplinary research conceptualizations on water and agricultural systems. Evaluation data indicates that the workshop dramatically improved participants' transdisciplinary orientation and developed skills and competencies unavailable through their regular programs.

Presentation Media

Presentation slides (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 6.5MB Jul17 18)