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New Year’s Challenge: Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Dear Graduate Education Community,

I’d like to welcome you to a new year and a new semester. Resolutions are a big thing in January, but more often than not, they quickly fizzle away. Instead of resolutions, I like to think in terms of goals. Goals are more positive than resolutions as they help you focus on what you want to accomplish.

This year collaboration is emerging as an important theme. Some of the most cutting edge discoveries and contributions to society take place at the intersection of multiple disciplines. Whether in political science, business, the arts, or research collaboration that crosses disciplinary boundaries is an essential skill for the workforce of the future.

Traditional graduate education produces experts in a certain field. Graduate students are asked to precisely define a problem, apply knowledge to understand that problem, and create and test a solution. While this is an approach which has proven highly effective and continues to be desirable, it creates scholars who are comfortable within their own domains and may be reluctant to reach outside their discipline. Yet, the challenges we are asked to face and solve are multifaceted. The sheer complexity of today’s world begs for collaboration in problem solving and innovation. We want ASU’s scholars to be prepared for the interdisciplinary leadership roles of the future. Graduate education must continue to offer deep expertise in a student’s chosen field, while also providing ways to practice interdisciplinary strategies.

Therefore, as we enter this new year, I challenge everyone involved in graduate education to produce interdisciplinary scholarship and solutions. How can disciplines outside of our respective fields contribute to the questions we are asking? Let’s strive to participate in an interdisciplinary exercise, a mentorship program, or involve at least two other people not trained in our field in the research or projects we pursue this year.

If you need help, the Graduate College is working on several initiatives to enable you to meet and work with people outside your field. We offer two courses designed to expose you to interdisciplinary approaches, Knowledge Mobilization Studio and Interdisciplinary Research Colloquium (IRC). Our Graduate College Mentoring Network provides connections with both interpersonal support and academic or career-focused guidance needed to successfully integrate interpersonal and academic identities and navigate career pathways. ASU offers a number of interdisciplinary graduate programs and training opportunities at interdisciplinary centers/institutes. International partnerships and graduate programs afford unique interdisciplinary training opportunities. I encourage you to take advantage of the outstanding graduate education opportunities that are only available at ASU.

Wishing you a successful spring semester!

Alfredo Artiles Signature

Alfredo J. Artiles,