Developing next-generation climate change scholars: the DISCCRS experience

  • Ronald B. MitchellEmail author
  • C. Susan Weiler


Addressing climate change successfully will require an interdisciplinary network of climate change scholars who can communicate effectively with scholars from other disciplines and with the many audiences beyond the ivory tower. Those scholars will need teamwork skills that foster sustained interdisciplinary collaborations and the specific professional skills and training needed for interdisciplinary scholars to navigate successfully in a disciplinary academic world. Yet, at present, our institutions of higher education are not providing these skills to new Ph.D.s. Most graduate students receive extensive disciplinary training but little, if any, training in doing interdisciplinary research, communicating effectively, or building their careers. The authors have developed DISCCRS—the Dissertations Initiative for the Advancement of Climate Change Research—to build this network of climate change scholars and to target these shortcomings in current training of climate change scholars. This article describes the institutional obstacles and disincentives that hinder the training of graduate students, and the career progress of faculty, interested in conducting interdisciplinary climate change research. The DISCCRS initiative’s annual Symposia, Dissertation Registry, website, and weekly electronic newsletter are described as ways to build an interdisciplinary network of scholars and to improve that network’s communication, team building, and early-career development skills. DISCCRS has developed a model that can be used, in whole or in part, as more universities take up the challenge of developing the next generation of climate change scholars.


Climate change scholars DISCCRS Interdisciplinary programs Team building Climate change 


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Copyright information

© AESS 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science and Environmental Studies ProgramUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA
  2. 2.Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences Division, Cross-Directorate and Interdisciplinary ProgramsNational Science FoundationArlingtonUSA

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