Many of the most pressing issues of our time—climate change, economic inequality, human rights—require interdisciplinary solutions. Yet facilitating collaboration among individuals from disparate fields can often be challenging. A recent study on what contributes to successful interdisciplinary work has found that the “emotional aspect” of such collaborations is at least as important as their intellectual aspect.
The study, by professor of sociology Michele Lamont, lecturer on education Veronica Boix Mansilla, and Kyoko Sato, now a lecturer at Stanford, closely examined nine interdisciplinary networks funded by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Santa Fe Institute. These networks all brought together scholars from at least three disciplines; their research topics ranged from brain development to urbanization. Drawing on documents, observation, surveys, and interviews, the authors concluded that the markers of successful interdisciplinary collaborations include not just an intellectual, but also emotional and interactional elements, and they proposed a “shared cognitive-emotional-interactional platform” for evaluating such projects.
Read the full article on the Harvard Magazine website.