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  5. Interdisciplinarity


COACHE defines interdisciplinary as research collaboration within and between institutions and with off-campus partners


How do we compare to our peer/cohort

Response options ranged from 1-5 where 5 is the most favorable. The functional range of responses for the 103 schools in the cohort was approximately 2.3-3.25. DU scored 2.48/5, which was in the bottom third of the cohort. This was consistent across faculty subgroups, excepting pre-tenured faculty who rated interdisciplinary work as commensurate with the middle third of schools.

Survey terms that relate to this category include

Q99. Rate your level of interest in teaching and/or research with faculty in disciplines other than your own?

Q98. Are you engaged in…

  1. Collaborative teaching with faculty in disciplines other than your own?
  2. Collaborative research with faculty in disciplines other than your own?
  3. Solo interdisciplinary teaching and/or research?

Q100. Please rate your level of agreement or disagreement with the following statements:

  1. Budget allocations encourage interdisciplinary work.
  2. Campus facilities (e.g. spaces, buildings, centers, labs) are conducive to interdisciplinary work.
  3. Interdisciplinary work is rewarded in the merit process.
  4. [NTT or Tenured Associate or Tenured Full] Interdisciplinary work is rewarded in the promotion process.
  5. [Pre-tenure Faculty] Interdisciplinary work is rewarded in the tenure process
  6. [NTT Faculty] Interdisciplinary work is rewarded in the reappointment process
  7. My department understands how to evaluate interdisciplinary work.

What is currently happening

Some examples of DU’s interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary efforts in the last five years include:

IRISE, Interdisciplinary Research Institute for the Study of Inequality, founded in fall of 2017, with the mission to provide the necessary intellectual structure for students and faculty that,facilitates the interdisciplinary teaching and learning, collaboration, research, scholarship, and creative works promoting equality in historically underrepresented communities, and  develops, supports, and implements academic programs and activities that promote the advancement of historically underrepresented populations at DU.

New IRISE initiatives seek to make IRISE a community-centered fulcrum that amplifies campus expertise, marshals interdisciplinary campus resources, and creates meaningful pathways for DU to partner with non-DU leaders and organizations to challenge systems and structures that lead to racial and social inequities. IRISE 2.0 therefore seeks to equip our campus to partner with community agencies and historically marginalized groups and individuals in the collaborative production and application of knowledge leading to greater community inclusion. IRISE offers Internal grants of $10-20k over 2 years.

The Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging (KIHA)
The Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging (KIHA), founded in 2016, is a  multi-disciplinary institute on the University of Denver campus with a vision to improve the quality in life, wellness and community. The Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging (KIHA) brings together key strengths from around campus and the region to address growing needs here in Denver and throughout the nation. Designed to address complex problems in depth, the Institute builds on DU’s dedication to the public good by supporting research and scholarship on aging in a variety of disciplines. Lab scientists, social workers, psychologists, lawyers, education specialists, business faculty members, and others are routinely involved. The work of the Institute is truly collaborative work, leveraging the assets of the DU community in the discovery and design of knowledge and engagement across our campus and around the world.

KIHA offers funding for pilot research projects in the area of aging research. The goals of the fund are to support an increase in external federal funding in aging / longevity, advance areas of aging / longevity research strength at DU, support development of new areas of aging/longevity research, and promote interdisciplinary partnerships as appropriate. Pilot projects funded under this mechanism are expected to result in applications for funding for large, multi-year research projects. Proposals from the natural sciences, engineering and social sciences are appropriate for this funding mechanism. A total of $200,000 is available to fund 3-5 projects.

PROF multidisciplinary award
Over the last several years, DU has expanded attention to and support for interdisciplinary work. For example, in 2017 the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) and the Faculty Senate created a category of the PROF internal research grant to support and fund  multidisciplinary research at a higher level.

Knowledge Bridges Initiative
Additionally, the campus strategic plan identified knowledge bridges as a priority in order to support interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and transdisciplinary research. As stated in DU IMPACT 2025, increasingly research and knowledge design conducted in universities is problem-based with a rich mixture of investigations spanning basic to applied and reaching for development levels. The work is therefore defined by the topics that are investigated rather than by the way disciplines are organized. During the IMAGINE DU process, we heard that faculty members are eager for an institutional mechanism that not only allows cross-school and interdisciplinary collaborations, but promotes and encourages those opportunities. The Knowledge Bridge initiative aspires to create a limited number of DU-brand defining research bridges by 2025. These areas will be nationally visible, creating measurable impact from which our faculty, students, community, nation and the world benefits.

Project X-ITE
Project X-ITE was launched in March 2016 to connect all the resources of the University of Denver together to advance innovation, technology and entrepreneurship across our community, region and world. Project X-ITE is an interdisciplinary hub for projects at the intersection of entrepreneurship, innovation and technology.

Don’t see your project listed here? Let us know.

What Is Next

As DU expands its efforts to support interdisciplinary research, several new efforts are underway.

As of 2019,  IRISE 2.0 has identified racial inequality in education and health as its main focus of research for the 2018-2020 academic years.  Specifically, the research mission of IRISE 2.0 is to support community engaged interdisciplinary research that addresses racial disparity through qualitative or quantitative methodology, creative works, as well as projects that provide policy prescription or analysis.   Given the interrelated nature of education, health, housing, and income, we will consider all projects that illuminate the impact of racial inequality in our region consistent with the vision of DU Impact 2025.

Scrivner Institute
As of 2019, The Scrivner Institute at the Josef Korbel School will work at the intersection of real-world problems and practical policy solutions to those problems. It is by its nature interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary, bridging knowledge between academic disciplines and today’s most crucial issues.

Knowledge Bridge Initiative Funding
One to two knowledge bridge teams of faculty from across disciplines will be funded in summer 2020 at up to 100k per year for three years to build out their knowledge bridge, develop impact in their area of work, and seek funding to sustain its goals. Additional knowledge bridge ideas will then be elicited from faculty across campus to compete for future rounds of knowledge bridge funding through Impact 2025.