Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Designing and Implementing a Novel Graduate Program to Develop Transdisciplinary Leaders in Urban Sustainability

Version 1 : Received: 2 December 2020 / Approved: 3 December 2020 / Online: 3 December 2020 (14:30:23 CET)

How to cite: Wallen, M.M.; Guerra-Lopez, I.; Meroueh, L.; Mohamed, R.; Sankar, A.; Sopory, P.; Watkins, R.; Kashian, D.R. Designing and Implementing a Novel Graduate Program to Develop Transdisciplinary Leaders in Urban Sustainability. Preprints 2020, 2020120088 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202012.0088.v1). Wallen, M.M.; Guerra-Lopez, I.; Meroueh, L.; Mohamed, R.; Sankar, A.; Sopory, P.; Watkins, R.; Kashian, D.R. Designing and Implementing a Novel Graduate Program to Develop Transdisciplinary Leaders in Urban Sustainability. Preprints 2020, 2020120088 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202012.0088.v1).

Abstract

Urban settings are increasingly faced with challenges across natural and engineered environmental systems, threatening the sustainability of urban centers where >50% of the world's population resides. The pressures of aging infrastructure, water and air pollution, and environmental justice exemplify the growing need for urban professionals to employ complex scientific reasoning across disciplines where they can effectively address the multi-faceted issues of urban sustainability. Here we present an innovative model for preparing the next generation of public, private, and academic leaders to address complex problems in urban sustainability. Specifically, we outline the design and implementation of an integrated, adaptable graduate training program, with the goals of science leadership, curriculum relevancy, community impact, broader applicability, recruitment into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs and careers, and program sustainability. This program addresses human-ecosystem challenges using a transdisciplinary approach to produce scientific products in partnership with local communities, businesses, industries, scientists, and policy makers, while providing a mechanism to understand and overcome contemporary societal challenges. Students receive rigorous training in their home disciplines, coupled with training across disciplinary lines and developmental experiences, to prepare them to communicate, collaborate, and innovate in a variety of contexts. Training success is evaluated across measurable competency domains including problem definition, research methods, communication, collaboration, and problem-solving. After three years the program expanded relationships across fields and professions, successfully established 18 internship opportunities with community partners, created a new dual-title PhD program open to students in 5 academic departments, and facilitated the co-production of knowledge with external partners. This model bridges the gaps between research, education, and application, providing an integrated, rigorous graduate training program that fosters collaborative problem-solving between STEM graduate students and the broader community of professionals conducting sustainability work in a post-industrial urban setting.

Subject Areas

graduate programs; higher education; interdisciplinary research; STEM; transdisciplinary research; urban sustainability

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