Community essay tools for enhancing interdisciplinary communication

Leigh Winowiecki, Sean Smukler, Kenneth Shirley, Roseline Remans, Gretchen Peltier, Erin Lothes, Elisabeth King, Liza Comita, Sandra Baptista, Leontine Alkema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This is a collaborative community essay, written by ten postdoctoral research fellows who had the opportunity to come together at Columbia University's interdisciplinary Earth Institute. In many ways, we were different: our disciplinary backgrounds run the gamut in physical and social sciences; we study in different parts of the world, from sub-Saharan Africa to Latin America; we approach our work differently-some of us spend our days in the field collecting and ana-lyzing soil samples, others conduct in-depth interviews in rural communities, while still others spend time in the lab elaborating formulas and crunching numbers. Yet, we found common ground: all of us are committed to addressing issues of sustainability in complex environments. As such, we wanted to harness our diversity and various strengths to bring together scientific, political, economic, demographic, geographic, ecological, and ethical perspectives on the challenges and opportunities of sustainable development. We remain ambitious in our aims. Nonetheless, we realized that our first task was figuring out how to communicate effectively across often disparate disciplines. This community essay chronicles that part of our journey. We hope it will be of use to others who endeavor to work across and beyond traditional academic disciplines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-80
Number of pages7
JournalSustainability: Science, Practice, and Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • General Environmental Science


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