Teaching interdisciplinary sustainability science teamwork skills to graduate students using in-person and web-based interactions
Interdisciplinary sustainability science teamwork skills are essential for addressing the world’s most pressing and complex sustainability problems, which inherently have social, natural, and engineering science dimensions. Further, because sustainability science problems exist at global scales, interdisciplinary science teams will need to consist of international members who communicate and work together effectively. Students trained in international interdisciplinary science skills will be able to hit the ground running when they obtain jobs requiring them to tackle sustainability problems. While many universities now have sustainability science programs, few offer courses that are interdisciplinary and international in scope. In the fall semester of 2013, we piloted a course for graduate students entitled “Principles of Interdisciplinary Sustainability Research” at Michigan Technological University. This course was part of our United States National Science Foundation Partnerships in International Research and Education project on bioenergy development impacts across the Americas. In this case study, we describe the course development and implementation, share critical insights from our experience teaching the course and student learning outcomes, and give recommendations for future similar courses.