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Interdisciplinarians: Eager and Ready

Interdisciplinary Research – bringing two different things together for interesting results

Recently, I had the privilege of attending the Association of Interdisciplinary Studies (AIS) Annual Conference; it was a great opportunity and was surprisingly close to where I grew up, so it was pretty cool seeing that research efforts similar to my own were happening so close to home. I’d been looking forward to this conference for quite some time, as I was pretty sure I was going to meet many people whose articles I’d read as part of the literature review for my own research – Teaching GIS to Adult Learners as a means of facilitating Interdisciplinary Research.

The conference was great in that it wasn’t too big, but it wasn’t too small. The people were warm and welcoming to new comers and were very interested in the projects I mentioned to them in my introduction – namely Adaptable Suburbs and ExCiteS. For those who may follow me on twitter (@mapperpat) you’ll only really see me tweeting when I’m at conferences. In this instance, I made a connection and, while explaining my work to them in person, it just so happened that one of the committee members for the conference overheard me and asked if I could present in lieu of someone who wasn’t able to make it (you can find the presentation I gave on slideshare). I’m always happy to discuss the work I do and was excited by the opportunity to present my own interdisciplinary findings to a large group of interdisciplinarians. It was interesting to see how people could apply mapping across the disciplines and I was pleased to see that maps were used in another presentation I attended – using ManyEyes to easily map geographic information into a web accessible interface for easy querying.

By the end of the conference, I felt like I had met many a kindred spirit – people from numerous disciplines who put their disciplinary backgrounds aside to simply focus on how we can successfully facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations. There was great representation from University of Amsterdam’s Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, where they shared with us their curriculum for teaching in an interdisciplinary way, based on Allen Repko’s work, and the interdisciplinary all-stars from Miami University’s Interdisciplinary Studies department (we had them, in particular, to thank for a very well put together conference). I would definitely recommend connecting with the AIS to anyone interested in interdisciplinary research and meeting interested and enthusiastic interdisciplinarians who are successfully engaging in these endeavors at world-class institutions.

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About Patrick R

Patrick Rickles is a full time Research Assistant at University College London based out of the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geomatic Engineering, working on the Adaptable Suburbs project, which is an interdisciplinary study of the relationship between networks of human activity and the changing form of urban and suburban centres through time. Patrick specifically handles technological needs for the group, creating websites, web maps and various systems and tools to help the team work more effectively and visualise results. Patrick is also working on his PhD, part time, where he is researching Education techniques for efficiently and effectively teaching Geographic Information Systems in Interdisciplinary Research.

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