Pisa Study Abroad – Last Call

This is the final call for students interested in the Pisa, Italy, study abroad program. This unique study abroad program will provide students with a transdisciplinary perspective on sustainable development and is intended for rising seniors and graduate students interested in planning, policy, economics, business, innovation, environmental studies, and law. The program will explore the many dimensions of sustainability and how national, multinational, and international political and legal mechanisms can be used to further a transition towards sustainable development.

The program includes a summer school at the University of Pisa, attendance of 14th Conference of the European Society for Ecological Economics (ESEE), and hiking in the Apuan Alps.

If you are interested in the program, please contact me by March 31

While this program was designed for students at Virginia Tech and MIT, it is open to any rising senior or graduate student in good academic standing at any institute of higher education in the US. See below for more information on how to register as a non-Virginia Tech student.

Via Vandelli

Non-Virginia Tech Students 

  1. Create a non-VT study abroad account with the Global Education Office and apply for the study abroad program by the March 31 deadline.
  2. Your study abroad application will be reviewed. If you are offered acceptance to the study abroad program, the offer is pending admission to Virginia Tech as a Non-Degree Seeking student. To apply, complete the non-degree application. The non-degree application requires a $60 application fee and transcripts from previous studies.
  3. Non-degree applications are generally reviewed and approved within 72 hours. Students receive a non-degree offer letter with a Virginia Tech student ID number in order to pay study abroad program fees and be registered for the course. 
  4. Non-Virginia residents pay the out-of-state tuition rate (listed on the financial matters tab), unless students can document Virginia residency. For more information on qualifying for in-state status, see the in-state eligibility page.
  5. Students need to work with their home institution (academic adviser/faculty adviser/Registrar’s Office) to verify whether the Virginia Tech course/transcript can be transferred and count toward their degree.  

From Ping Pong to Community Wealth and Collaboration

Over the past year, performance artist Steven T. Licardi and I have been exploring ways to advance new economic thinking – related to Community Wealth Building – through a SciArts project. This project was funded by a grant from the Center for Communicating Science at Virginia Tech.

If you would like to know how ping ping and community wealth building are connected, please join us at 12pm on Thursday, March 17, at the new Creativity and Innovation District build at Virginia Tech.

New F.I.R.E. Starters Program Launches

I’m pleased to announce the launch of the new F.I.R.E. (Forging Interest in Research and Engagement) Starters undergraduate research program at Virginia Tech that aims to increase access to, and training for, research opportunities for underrepresented minority students.

Students will participate in cohort learning that introduces them to transdisciplinary research and prepares them to pursue future research opportunities. Each student may receive up to $4,000 in funding

Students in all disciplines – especially in the humanities and social sciences – are encouraged to think broadly about how their interests intersect with the theme of Environment and Society and how they could advance a research project that builds on their interests.

In addition to receiving a stipend, successful applicants will be given an opportunity to apply for up to $4,000 of additional funding to support a proposed research project.

If you are a faculty member/researcher/advisor at Virginia Tech, please encourage your eligible students to apply. Details are available here.

Seminar Recording – Theory for Action

The recording of Dr. Tiziano Distefano (University of Pisa, Italy) seminar entitled “Theory for Action: Applying System Dynamics to Address Climate Change and Social Inequality,” can be accessed below. If you would like to read more about his research I recommend looking at this paper on Feasible alternatives to green growth and edited book on Water Resources and Economic Processes.

If you are an undergraduate (rising senior) or graduate student and would like to apply for our joint study abroad program, please submit an application by February 28, 2022.

Seminar – Theory for Action (Feb 4, 12pm)

On Friday, February 4, from 12 – 1pm, Dr. Tiziano Distefano (University of Pisa, Italy) will talk about his research on applying system dynamics to address climate change and social inequality.

Please register here to obtain the Zoom link for the seminar. 

During his presentation, Dr. Distefano will also talk about a unique summer 2022 VT-MIT-UNIPI Study Abroad program (in Pisa, Italy) that will explore transitions towards sustainability and enable students to attend the 14th Conference of the European Society for Ecological Economics (ESEE) and hike and learn in the Apuan Alps.

USAID LASER PULSE Article on Kenya Project

USAID LASER PULSE just released the following article on our research project in Kenya. The article includes a short video showing the AgUnity blockchain app being used by project participants along the African Indigenous Vegetable (AIV) supply chain.

Exploring the Future of Work

During the Fall 2021 semester, I had the pleasure of teaching an honors course with Prof. Daniel Sui (Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation at Virginia Tech) that focused on the future of work. The course was designed to expose students to the wide variety of research that is undertaken at Virginia Tech on this topic (see the list below). The news article below provides some insight into the course and what the students thought of the experience. We are planning to offer a version of the course again during the Fall 2022 semester.

The list below provides an overview of the subjects covered by our guest speakers during the semester:

Science on Tap – Community Wealth Building

For many, our current economic models no longer ensure our basic human needs are met. However, other worlds are possible, but we can’t create those worlds without you. Please join performance artist Steven T. Licardi and I on Wednesday, January 26, from 5:30 – 7:00pm at the Rising Silo, for an interactive performance-lecture that imagines, explores, and develops a vision of Community Wealth-Building in our community.

New Paper on Designing Transdisciplinarity

In this new article published in the Journal of Public Affairs Education, we discuss institutional drivers and barriers to collaborative transdisciplinary teaching as experienced through the Virginia Tech’s Honors College SuperStudio.

Abstract

Employers increasingly desire new graduates to work across boundaries, in teams, and with developed soft skills, especially in public affairs. Likewise, students increasingly seek academic experiences for learning, practicing, and honing transferable, competency-based skills. This suggests instructors should explore alternative pedagogy engaging problem definition and transdisciplinary teamwork. We describe institutional drivers and barriers to collaborative transdisciplinarity in undergraduate teaching and the structure and processes involved in developing a co-taught studio-based capstone involving public affairs students and varied other unrelated majors. We describe the structure through which the “SuperStudio” (1) combines topic concentrations with a shared policy context allowing students to apply disciplinary knowledge to define transdisciplinary problems and (2) fosters collaborative teaching and strategic exploration of overarching issues like problem framing, equity, and effective communication. We then offer lessons learned regarding the drivers and barriers to such efforts, and advice from institutional decision-makers on designing such courses at other institutions.

Suggested citation: Anne-Lise Velez, Hall, R.P., and Lewis, S.N. (2021) Designing transdisciplinarity: Exploring institutional drivers and barriers to collaborative transdisciplinary teaching. Journal of Public Affairs Education, DOI: 10.1080/15236803.2021.1992196.