“In the longer run and for wide-reaching issues, more creative solutions tend to come from imaginative interdisciplinary collaboration.”
— Economist Robert J. Shiller
As debate partners in high school, Doug and I disputed and rebutted the science behind numerous wide-reaching issues — including the all important, “man’s best friend: dog or goldfish” (we won, siding with the goldfish). These experiences in Ms. Frazier’s classroom laid the foundations of a friendship, as well as the logic and critical thinking (and humor) that would get us through high school and into college. Later, as graduate students at Florida State University, we were together again and debating the science of our field: instructional systems design.
Guided by our major professor, Roger Kaufman, we were pushed to look beyond our field of research to explore our places in societal systems and how to make positive contributions that lead to a better future. No longer viewing wide-reaching issues from a single-discipline perspective, we were encouraged to read research from many disciplines and to search out diverse solutions to our challenges. Though Doug would end up on the West Coast after grad school, and me on the East at George Washington University in Washington DC, we remained friends and routinely shared the research we were reading.
Through very different paths, in the last five years our multi-disciplinary interests began to interlace more closely as we found numerous research areas of mutual interest. For me, the journey to get this point included the development of We Share Science, an online portal for sharing video abstracts of scientific research (imagine a mash-up of TEDTalks, Pinterest, and a science fair). At GWU, I also took on leadership in the development of a new cross-disciplinary PhD that is a collaboration of education, data science, engineering, I/O psychology, decision sciences, economics, and medical/health informatics. Within the University we have also constituted a group to promote collaborative research and the use the collaborative technologies to support team science.
These experiences, and others, led Doug and I to a conversation in the Spring of 2016 that would give birth to Parsing Science. Our biggest fan is definitely my mom, a retired 3rd grade teacher who has boundless curiosity. My wife, a clinical psychology professor, especially enjoys the psychology episodes; whereas for our sons in elementary school, Parsing Science remains distant second behind their favorite podcast: Wow In the World.
When I read research from other disciplines, I often see the connections to my own work. My hope is that listening to the stories behind the research of others on Parsing Science will sparks ideas that can improve your research too!
You can also visit my website: www.RyanRWatkins.com