Five ways to support interdisciplinary work before tenure

  • Melinda Harm Benson
  • Christopher D. Lippitt
  • Ryan Morrison
  • Barbara Cosens
  • Jan Boll
  • Brian C. Chaffin
  • Alexander K. Fremier
  • Robert Heinse
  • Derek Kauneckis
  • Timothy E. Link
  • Caroline E. Scruggs
  • Mark Stone
  • Vanessa Valentin
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s13412-015-0326-9

Cite this article as:
Benson, M.H., Lippitt, C.D., Morrison, R. et al. J Environ Stud Sci (2016) 6: 260. doi:10.1007/s13412-015-0326-9

Abstract

Academic institutions often claim to promote interdisciplinary teaching and research. Prescriptions for successfully engaging in interdisciplinary efforts, however, are usually directed at the individuals doing the work rather than the institutions evaluating them for the purpose of tenure and promotion. Where institutional recommendations do exist, they are often general in nature and lacking concrete guidance. Here, we draw on our experiences as students and faculty participating in three interdisciplinary water resource management programs in the USA to propose five practices that academic institutions can adopt to effectively support interdisciplinary work. We focus on reforms that will support pre-tenure faculty because we believe that an investment in interdisciplinary work early in one’s career is both particularly challenging and seldom rewarded. Recommended reforms include (1) creating metrics that reward interdisciplinary scholarship, (2) allowing faculty to “count” teaching and advising loads in interdisciplinary programs, (3) creating a “safe fail” for interdisciplinary research proposals and projects, (4) creating appropriate academic homes for interdisciplinary programs, and (5) rethinking “advancement of the discipline” as a basis for promotion and tenure.

Keywords

Interdisciplinary Transdisciplinary Tenure Coupled Human Natural Systems 

Copyright information

© AESS 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melinda Harm Benson
    • 1
  • Christopher D. Lippitt
    • 1
  • Ryan Morrison
    • 2
  • Barbara Cosens
    • 3
  • Jan Boll
    • 4
  • Brian C. Chaffin
    • 5
  • Alexander K. Fremier
    • 6
  • Robert Heinse
    • 7
  • Derek Kauneckis
    • 8
  • Timothy E. Link
    • 9
  • Caroline E. Scruggs
    • 10
  • Mark Stone
    • 11
  • Vanessa Valentin
    • 11
  1. 1.Department of Geography and Environmental Studies MSC01 1110 1University of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological SurveyFort CollinsUSA
  3. 3.College of LawUniversity of IdahoMoscowUSA
  4. 4.Civil and Environmental EngineeringWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  5. 5.College of Forestry and ConservationUniversity of MontanaMissoulaUSA
  6. 6.School of the EnvironmentWashington State UniversityMissoulaUSA
  7. 7.Department of Soil PhysicsUniversity of IdahoMoscowUSA
  8. 8.Voinovich School of Leadership and Public AffairsOhio UniversityAthensUSA
  9. 9.Department of Forest, Rangeland, and Fire SciencesUniversity of IdahoMoscowUSA
  10. 10.Community and Regional PlanningUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA
  11. 11.College of Civil EngineeringUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

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