Complex environmental problems face the world in growing numbers. The sciences will be tapped like never before to generate effective and sustainable solutions. Research programs to develop the required knowledge will be radically interdisciplinary. And graduate students training in the environmental sciences today will be the driving force in their development.
How can the environmental sciences employ the breadth of multiple scientific perspectives necessary to engage complex environmental problems while maintaining the scientific rigor necessary to produce new knowledge? How should researchers trained in different disciplines work together to produce ground breaking research? What innovations in environmental science will result from such collaborations?
If the environmental sciences are to meet their challenges we will need answers to these questions. The Snowbird Charrette in Environmental Research Design is a unique, innovative project that aims to understand how environmental science can effectively engage in interdisciplinary problem solving. And we’re asking young scientists interested in environmental research to help.
From August 24-28, 2006, we will bring together graduate students from across the sciences to the Cliff Lodge resort in Snowbird, Utah to participate in an environmental science “charrette.” A charrette is an intense exercise in tight-deadline problem solving. Since their inception by the faculty of architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, charrettes have been used widely by architects, designers, urban planners, engineers, and researchers in the environmental sciences to generate bold new ideas in a limited timeframe.
Participants will receive a multi-faceted environmental problem and have two and a half days to design a research program to address it. Participants will be assembled into small interdisciplinary teams whose members have diverse scientific training and interests. Working together they will design a research plan for a large scale interdisciplinary project complete with a proposed problem statement, hypotheses, and methods for collecting and analyzing data. The teams will convene to present their proposals to a panel of leading scientists with expertise from across the environmental sciences. Participants will:
- exercise individual scientific talents in an intense collaborative project;
- test their skills in research conceptualization, design and presentation;
- meet other young scientists and future colleagues from around the country;
- advance the environmental sciences through the improvement of graduate education and research;
- engage leading scientists from the environmental research community;
- travel all-expenses-paid to the Cliff Lodge resort in Snowbird, Utah;
- receive a $200 stipend.
The Snowbird Charrette is not a competition, but rather an exploration of innovative thinking in environmental research. The panel of experts will be looking for scientific inspiration, intellectual integrity, research novelty, project feasibility, and broader potential impact.
This project is co-hosted by the Social Science Research Council and Arizona State University with funding from the National Science Foundation.