Hart quoted in Nature Sustainability article on leadership challenges in interdisciplinary environmental research
Nature Sustainability quoted David Hart, a professor of biological sciences and the director of the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions at the University of Maine, in the article, “Meeting the leadership challenges for interdisciplinary environmental research.” The Mitchell Center has been involved for more than a decade in an interdisciplinary tidal energy project on the Bay of Fundy between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Hart is part of a group of 20 leaders sharing their experience leading interdisciplinary organizations, improving scholarship and formalizing ways they can learn from each other, the article states. Interdisciplinary research can be the most effective approach to complex environmental problems, but approaching it in a practical way can be complex. Hart believes “that a solutions-focused approach to academic research requires long-term sustained emphasis on keeping research channels open for interdisciplinarity.” The Mitchell Center brings together 200 faculty members from 18 institutions, encompassing almost every field of study. Hart’s experience there has enhanced his understanding of the role of leaders in facilitating the researchers’ work. “If they’re missing expertise in their research, we help them find it. Or, if the teams crash into some conflict that arises when diverse teams try to work together, we help resolve it,” Hart said. Addressing structural differences of research processes, funding and the organizations can bring in new research that’s needed to solve contemporary environmental issues.