Programs > Future of Science Program

Integrative, Interdisciplinary Graduate Education: New Concepts for Assessment

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As a result of organizational and epistemological changes in knowledge production and accompanying structural and professional shifts in the labor market, efforts are underway to reform graduate education and training programs in ways that prepare students for new models of scientific research and new modes of scientific employment. Together, these contextual changes and reform efforts have led to the development and diffusion of “innovative, interdisciplinary, and integrative”–or I3–approaches to graduate education and training. I3 programs seek to: (a) ground students in the fundamentals of their own fields as well as expose them to several subfields of science and engineering; (b) develop students’ technical proficiencies as well as their abilities to communicate complex ideas and to work well in teams; and (c) prepare students to engage the diverse publics concerned with science and technology in ways that shape policy and inform practice in various sectors and contexts. The SSRC's Future of Science Program organized a project on behalf of the National Science Foundation to investigate this new approach. We conducted student and faculty surveys of participants in the NSF-sponsored Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) program and held an environmental science "charrette" in Snowbird, Utah, for assessing interdisciplinary student collaboration. We are currently analyzing the wealth of audio, textual, and visual data from the charrette event as well as our survey and interview findings.

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