University of Vermont

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    "I learned that science can provide you with the outdoor adventure of a lifetime." — Ryan Sleeper

    Ryan SleeperEnvironmental sciences major, graduate student in natural resources, field research in Alaska, job with environmental consulting company. More about Ryan

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    "Here is a cool new technology for me to jump into that combines geography, natural resources, and information technology!" — Maya Thomas

    Maya ThomasEnvironmental sciences major, GIS minor, research internships, GIS specialist with consulting firm. More about Maya

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    "The hands-on learning approach allowed me to integrate classroom learning with real life experience." — Alex Marcucci

    Alex MarcucciEnvironmental sciences major, watershed steward & restoration intern, valued service-learning courses, environmental scientist with consulting firm. More about Alex

  • environmental leaders

    "I wanted to learn about how forest ecosystems work and find a job where I could be outside and do something meaningful."— Eric Donnelly

    Eric DonnellyForestry major, research project at UVM forest, forestry technician protecting society's forest-based natural resources long-term. More about Eric

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    "I knew I would be surrounded by individuals who shared many of the same passions."— Carson Casey

    Carson Casey Natural resources major, student government, research on clean energy for Vermont legislature, study abroad in Tanzania, job in renewable energy education. More about Carson

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    "I wanted to become more fluent in the natural history of the region and gain the skills needed to get my students learning outside." — Ryan Morra

    Ryan MorraMaster's degree in natural resources, project in Puerto Rico, professional development programs in sustainability for educators. More about Ryan

The Rubenstein School offers exciting, hands-on environmental programs that integrate natural sciences and social perspectives. Our small, close-knit community challenges students to discover knowledge, skills, and values to become innovative, environmentally-responsible leaders. More about our School | More about studying the environment at UVM

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  • Environmental Studies
  • Forestry
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Monday August 3, 2015
Aiken 311
Light refreshments provided
Tuesday August 4, 2015
Aiken 311
Light refreshments provided
Wednesday August 19, 2015
Becoming Transdisciplinary: Exploring Process in a Research Initiative on Climate Change

By Emil J. Tsao

Seminar: 3:30pm, Aiken 311
Defense: 4:30pm, Aiken 311

Adrian J. Ivakhiv, Professor, RSENR, Advisor
V. Ernesto Mendez, Associate Professor, Plant & Soil Sciences, Chair
Kelly Clark/Keefe, Associate Professor, Leadership and Developmental Sciences

The subject of this case study is the Vermont Agricultural Resilience in a Changing Climate initiative, a transdisciplinary research team at UVM that has maintained success in meeting research and outreach objectives despite collaborating in a way that does not follow any particular ideal-type transdisciplinary process. In following recent science and technology (STS) studies’ accounts of cross-disciplinary collaboration, the hypothesis pursued is that the transdisciplinary study of messy or "wicked" problems like climate change brings forth an array of responses from researchers whose disciplinary backgrounds already position them to pursue their research differently, particularly when they involve outside stakeholders in a participatory action research agenda. When not addressed explicitly through the transdisciplinary research framework, these differences are likely to result in more subterranean or affective responses, such as ambivalence and equivocation, which may permeate the collaborative group process. Through a qualitative ethnographic approach, I show that transdisciplinary work is complex and situational, due to the topic itself in agricultural resilience and climate change, the affective nature of the collaborative process, the differences in disciplinary perspectives, the researchers’ subjectivities, and the influence of outside actors in the initiative. I argue that transdisciplinary work must necessarily be challenging given the variety of heterogeneous forces at play, and that deeper attention to the situation elucidates underlying dynamics that are not addressed in the normal research process. This research contributes insights into the literature on transdisciplinary research on messy problems.

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