Adapting to the Challenges of International and Interdisciplinary Research of Coupled Human and Natural Systems

  • Sarah Laborde
  • Sui Chian Phang
  • Mark Moritz


We examine the collaborative practices of an interdisciplinary research team working across Cameroon and the United States to study the dynamics of a floodplain fishery as a coupled social-ecological system. Based on three years of survey data following team meetings, we discuss the challenges we encountered and explore the elements that ultimately allowed our heterogeneous scientific practices to “hang together.” We show how it was useful for us to consider different outputs of the project, in particular our integrated numerical model, as snapshots of epistemic processes supporting interdisciplinary exchange rather than purely as research products. We also argue against the pursuit of epistemological consensus within interdisciplinary research teams, and instead for accepting and even supporting multi-epistemological friction, or the messy and creative process of making connections across differences.



The research underpinning this chapter was financially supported by a National Science Foundation grant, Dynamics of CNH Program: Exploring social, ecological, and hydrological regime shifts in the Logone Floodplain, Cameroon, Mark Moritz (PI), Michael Durand, Ian Hamilton, Bryan Mark, Ningchuan Xiao (BCS-1211986). We want to thank all MORSL members in Columbus and Maroua who have taken the time to fill out the survey at the end of team meetings.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Laborde
    • 1
  • Sui Chian Phang
    • 2
  • Mark Moritz
    • 3
  1. 1.Australian Rivers InstituteGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal BiologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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