Learning for Transdisciplinary Leadership: Why Skilled Scholars Coming Together Is Not Enough

University of Calgary, University of Saskatchewan, Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University)

Publication Release Date: July 31, 2019
Date Posted: May 11, 2020
Submitted by: Genevieve LaMarr LeMee
Content Type: Publications
Periodical Name: BioScience
Type: Journal Article


Transdisciplinary research is an emerging new normal for many scientists in applied research fields, including One Health, planetary health, and sustainability. However, simply bringing highly skilled students (and faculty members) together to generate real-world solutions and policy recommendations for complex problems often fails to consistently create the desired results in transdisciplinary settings. Our research goal was to improve understanding and applications of transdisciplinary learning processes within a One Health graduate education program. This qualitative study analyzes 5 years of action research data, identifying four transdisciplinary leadership skills and four conditions required for consistent skill development. Combining Vygotsky's theory of proximal development with identified transdisciplinary skills, we explain why educational scaffolding is needed to enable more successful design and delivery of transdisciplinary learning, particularly in One Health educational programs.