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A Pedagogical Model for Team-based Interdisciplinary Doctoral Education
MRIC 2015/16

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A Pedagogical Model for Team-based Interdisciplinary Doctoral Education

A pedagogical model for team-based interdisciplinary doctoral education

Presented by Nilsa A. Bosque-Pérez, Department of Plant, Soil and Entomological Sciences.

Nilsa A. Bosque-Pérez

Department of Plant, Soil and Entomological Sciences

Presented with support of the Provost’s Office and University Honors Program


Interdisciplinary efforts are critical to address the complex problems our society faces. This talk will highlight a model for educating doctoral students for careers involving interdisciplinary, team-based research created as part of two National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Research and Education Traineeship (NSF-IGERT) projects. The educational model was developed by faculty at the University of Idaho and the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) in Costa Rica. The model involves:

  • Identification of integrated research questions combining team members’ disciplines;
  • Coursework to review theoretical underpinnings of interdisciplinarity and develop integrated research proposals to address research questions;
  • Meetings and workshops to enhance team cohesiveness;
  • Engagement with stakeholders;
  • Interdisciplinary team research that yields joint dissertation chapters and publications. 

The model achieved a level of integration unique among graduate education programs. More than 40 doctoral students have participated over the past 15 years. Using examples from IGERT projects, the talk will emphasize the importance of interdisciplinary team research and training for graduate students.


Nilsa Bosque-Pérez obtained her B.Sc. in agronomy and soil science from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, and her M.S. and Ph.D. in entomology at the University of California, Davis. A UI faculty member since 1997, she serves as project director and student mentor in the UI-CATIE NSF-IGERT project “Evaluating resilience of ecological and social systems in changing landscapes.” She previously served as Director of the IGERT project “Ecosystem management in tropical and temperate regions: integrating education in sustainable production and biodiversity conservation” (2001-2008). Her many awards include the UI’s Award for Excellence in Interdisciplinary or Collaborative Efforts.

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