Building Stronger Multidisciplinary Departments: Navigating a department merger

Monday 1:30pm-4:00pm Science Village 32
Afternoon Mini Workshop


Walt Robinson, North Carolina State University
Julie Bartley, Gustavus Adolphus College

This workshop is designed for members of geology, geography, atmospheric sciences, and/or environmental science/studies departments/programs who have recently merged or are considering a merger. Workshop facilitators, who have recently navigated a merger will share their experiences and lessons learned. Participants will consider opportunities and challenges of moving into larger, multidisciplinary departments and develop strategies that will build strengths and disciplinary identity in a transdisciplinary landscape. We encourage interdisciplinary teams from an institution to participate in this workshop - each participant or team will develop or revise a plan that addresses the particular needs of their department.


By the end of this workshop, participants will:

  • Explore the challenges and opportunities posed by department or program mergers
  • Reflect on how the characteristics of a thriving department apply to a merged department of program
  • Develop an action plan for implementing a new program element (course, co-curricular activity, curriculum sequence) that is enabled by the merger


1:30 Welcome and introductions

1:35 Participants briefly describe the context of the mergers they are facing. Discussion of commonalities and differences.

2:00 Characteristics of a thriving department or program

  • Brief review of these characteristics
  • Participants individually analyze how these apply to their merged department or program
  • Shared with group

2:30 Articulating a vision for a merged department or program: role-playing activity

2:40 Break

2:50 Action planning: in small groups develop a plan for something cool (curricular or co-curricular) enabled by the merger. Address

  • What is it?
  • How will it serve all students?
  • How will it build community within the merged department or program?
  • How will it enhance the value of the merged department or program on its campus?
  • How will it be resourced?

3:35 Participants share out action plans

3:45 Wrap-up and workshop evaluation

4:00 Adjourn


Characteristics of thriving department: