Fostering collisions in interdisciplinary graduate education

KerryAnn O’Meara (Department of Counseling, Higher Education and Special Education, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA)
Dawn Culpepper (Department of Counseling, Higher Education and Special Education, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA)

Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education

ISSN: 2398-4686

Publication date: 14 May 2020

Abstract

Purpose

Using the lens of social physics, this study aims to examine how, if at all, one graduate training program fostered collisions or meaningful interactions, between students and faculty from different disciplinary backgrounds.

Design/methodology/approach

Qualitative, ethnographic case study methods.

Findings

The University of Maryland’s National Research Traineeship program fostered collisions between students and faculty from different disciplinary backgrounds by facilitating exploration, idea flow and engagement within an interdisciplinary scholarly community. These collisions generated productive opportunities for student learning, development and collaborations, but at times also produced non-generative outcomes.

Practical implications

This study names specific, strategic activities (e.g. regular research talks, physical space) that graduate programs can use to facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations among students and faculty and considers the extent to which such activities contribute to organizational change.

Originality/value

This paper applies new theories (collisions and social physics) to understanding interdisciplinary collaboration and identifies aspects of graduate training programs that may be replicable in other institutional settings.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This article describes projects that have been funded by the National Science Foundation National Research Traineeship (NRT) program, grant NRT-DESE-1449815.

Citation

O’Meara, K. and Culpepper, D. (2020), "Fostering collisions in interdisciplinary graduate education", Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 163-180. https://doi.org/10.1108/SGPE-08-2019-0068

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Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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