About Us
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About Us

Toolbox Mission

The Toolbox Dialogue Initiative is a consulting and research community based at Michigan State University that includes members from ten US universities. We facilitate collaborative capacity building with partners around the world, and we investigate the practice of collaborative research, including team science, with an emphasis on understanding cross-disciplinarity and knowledge production.

Building Teams

TDI enhances team effectiveness by enabling cross-disciplinary research and practice teams to identify and leverage their differences.

Better Conversations

TDI helps cross-disciplinary research and practice teams improve their communication by increasing mutual understanding.

Facilitating Collaboration

Teammates who participate in Toolbox dialogue collaborate better because they know one another better as researchers and practitioners.

We are
Dialogue Experts

We structure dialogues that enhance communication and collaboration by revealing unobserved differences that can impeded collaborative decision-making.

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We offer

By working with you to identify your goals and priorities, we create a workshop tailored to your needs to enhance communication and collaborative capacity in your group.

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We conduct

Members of TDI are investigate aspects of cross-disciplinary process and practice, and also collaborate with partners on independent research projects.

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Our Community

The Toolbox Dialogue Initiative community is composed of the TDI Center based at Michigan State University and many core community members and collaborators at universities around the United States. Members of the TDI Community are engaged in dialogue-based workshops and related research.

TDI Center


Michael O’Rourke

Executive Director, Toolbox Dialogue Initiative Center; Professor, Department of Philosophy; Faculty, AgBioResearch, Michigan State University

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Edgar Cardenas

Associate Director, Toolbox Dialogue Initiative Center, Michigan State University

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Chet McLeskey

Associate Director, Toolbox Dialogue Initiative Center, Michigan State University

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Marisa A. Rinkus

Associate Director, Toolbox Dialogue Initiative Center, Michigan State University

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TDI Core Community Members


Stephen Crowley

Professor and Department Chair, Department of Philosophy, Boise State University

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Shannon Donovan

Founding faculty member and Associate Professor of Sustainable Rural Systems at Eastern Oregon University

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Sanford D. Eigenbrode

Professor of Entomology, University Distinguished Professor, Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology, University of Idaho

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Chad Gonnerman

Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Southern Indiana

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Troy E. Hall

Professor & Department Head, Forest Ecosystems & Society, Oregon State University

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Graham Hubbs

Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Politics and Philosophy, University of Idaho

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Ike Iyioke

Proposal Coordinator, Global IDEAS Program, Michigan State University

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Bethany Laursen

Team Science Specialist, Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research, University of Michigan; Principal Consultant, Laursen Evaluation & Design, LLC

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Anna Malavisi

Assistant Professor, Western Connecticut State University

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Brian Robinson

Associate Professor of Philosophy, Texas A&M University-Kingsville

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Stephanie E. Vasko, Ph.D.

Academic Specialist/User Experience Specialist, Michigan State University

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Jesse Engebretson

Assistant Professor, California State University-Chico

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TDI Advisors


Kara Hall

Director, Science of Team Science (SciTS), Director, Theories Initiative, Health Behaviors Research Branch, Behavioral Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute

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Steven Orzack

Senior Research Associate, Fresh Pond Research Institute, Cambridge, Mass.

TDI Advisor Emerita


Julie Thompson Klein

Professor of Humanities Emerita, English Department, Wayne State University; International Research Affiliate, Transdisciplinarity Lab (USYSTdLab), ETH‐Zurich


  • Eric Berling, Research Associate, VERITIES Project, Michigan State University
  • Jan Boll, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Interim Director, Center for Environmental Research, Education and Outreach (CEREO), Washington State University
  • Bryan Cwik, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and University Studies, Portland State University
  • Lissy Goralnik, Assistant Professor, Department of Community Sustainability, Environmental Science and Public Policy, Center for Gender in a Global Context, Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, Michigan State University
  • Paul Kjellberg, Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Whittier College
  • Robert T. Pennock, University Distinguished Professor, Lyman Briggs College and Departments of Philosophy and Computer Science & Engineering, Michigan State University
  • Katie Plaisance, Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Undergraduate Studies, Department of Knowledge Integration, Cross-appointed to the Department of Philosophy, University of Waterloo

Former Collaborators (Since 2007)

  • Nilsa Bosque-Pérez, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology & Nematology, University of Idaho
  • Barbara Cosens, University Distinguished Professor, University of Idaho College of Law
  • Brian Crist, M.A., Department of Philosophy, University of Idaho, 2010 (2008-2010)
  • Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, Small Farms Advisor, University of California Cooperative Extension Fresno County (2007-2008)
  • Frank Davis, Distinguished Professor, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, and Executive Director, Long Term Ecological Research Network Communications Office, University of California, Santa Barbara (2008-2012)
  • Tom Dietz, University Distinguished Professor, Department of Sociology, Environmental Science and Policy Program, Animal Studies Program and Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University
  • Paul Griffiths, Professor of Philosophy, University of Sydney (2008-2012)
  • Renée Hill, Ph.D, Environmental Science, University of Idaho, 2014 (2010-2014)
  • J. Britt Holbrook, Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (2014)
  • Justin Horn, Ph.D. student, Philosophy, University of Auckland (2009-2011)
  • John Kerr, Professor, Dept of Community Sustainability, Michigan State University
  • Chris Looney, Entomologist, Washington State Department of Agriculture (2007-2013)
  • Ian O’Loughlin, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Pacific University (2007-2012)
  • Sara Pepper, MA MPH International Grants Manager, Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, Washington State University (2007-2010)
  • Zachary Piso, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Dayton
  • Liela Rotschy, M.A., Teaching English as a Second Language, Department of English, University of Idaho (2010-2012)
  • Lynn Schnapp, Professor of Medicine, Division Chief, Pulmonary, Critical Care, Allergy and Sleep Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina (2011-2014)
  • Thomas P. Seager, Associate Professor, School of Sustainable Engineering & the Built Environment, Arizona State University  (2014)
  • Dan Steel, Associate Professor, W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics, University of British Columbia (2013-2017)
  • Lori Stinson, PhD, RN, Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs, Lewis-Clark State College (2007-2009)
  • Brianne Suldovsky, Assistant Professor of Communication, Department Communication, Portland State University (2009-2010)
  • Sean Valles, Director, Center for Bioethics & Social Justice, Michigan State University; Associate Professor, Lyman Briggs College and Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University
  • Chris Williams, Professor and Chair, Department of Statistical Science, University of Idaho (2007-2012)
  • Kyle Powys Whyte, George Willis Pack Professor of Environment & Sustainability, University of Michigan
  • J.D. Wulfhorst , Professor of Agricultural Economics and Director, Environmental Science Program, University of Idaho (2007-2012)