10/31/2014 UA Sociology Brown Bag Speaker: Erin Leahey (UA Sociology)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Social Sciences, Room 415


“University Commitment to Interdisciplinary Research: Scope, Causes and Consequences”


Erin Leahey
Associate Professor
School of Sociology, University of Arizona


 Because of its ostensible capacity to spark innovation and encourage breakthroughs, (Rhoten & Parker, 2004) interdisciplinary research (IDR) – which integrates “perspectives, information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines” (National Academies of Science 2005:188) – is being promoted at multiple levels. This backing has made IDR a “transformative force in science” (Hackett & Rhoten, 2009:409), but empirical investigations of this process, especially at the university level, are rare. The proposed multi-year, collaborative study fills this gap by assessing the scope, causes, and consequences of universities’ commitment to IDR. We are the first to propose ways to quantitatively measure university commitment to IDR, and use that to descriptively assess its scope: its extent and form across the population of top American research universities we study. Our theoretical interest and hypotheses surround both the precursors to university commitment to IDR (including resource scarcity and top-down incentives from university administrators) and its consequences (including social outcomes like prestige and economic outcomes like lucrative commercialization efforts).

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Published Date: 

08/27/2014 - 15:01