Ecology and Society
Resilience Alliance Publications
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
Graduate programs emerging in universities over recent decades support the advanced study of sustainability issues in complex socio-environmental systems. Constructing the problem-scope to address these issues requires graduate students to integrate across disciplines and synthesize the social and natural dimensions of sustainability. Graduate programs that are designed to foster inter- and transdisciplinary research acknowledge the importance of training students to use integrative research approaches. However, this training is not available in all graduate programs that support integrative research, often requiring students to seek external training opportunities. We present perspectives from a group of doctoral students with diverse disciplinary backgrounds conducting integrative research in universities across the United States who participated in a 10-day, National Science Foundation-funded integrative research training workshop to learn and develop socio-environmental research skills. Following the workshop, students conducted a collaborative autoethnographic study to share pre- and postworkshop research experiences and discuss ways to increase integrative research training opportunities. Results reveal that students, regardless of disciplinary background, face common barriers conducting integrative research that include: (1) lack of exposure to epistemological frameworks and team-science skills, (2) challenges to effectively include stakeholder perspectives in his/her research, and (3) variable levels of committee support to conduct integrative research. To overcome the identified barriers and advance integrative research, students recommend how training opportunities can be embedded within existing graduate programs. Students advocate that both internal and external training opportunities are necessary to support the next generation of sustainability scientists.
Killon, A.K., K. Sterle, E. Bondank, J.Drabik, A.Bera, S. Alian, K. Goodrich, M. Hale, R.A. Myer, Q. Phung, A.M. Shew, A.W. Thayer. 2018. “Preparing the next generation of sustainability scientists”. Ecology and Society.