Collaborative Transdisciplinary Research In A Small Institution: Challenges And Opportunities

Nilda G Medina, Loggina S. Báez Ávila, Loyda B Mendez
Informing Science: The International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline  •  Volume 21  •  2018  •  pp. 235-253

In this paper, we discuss how a Transdisciplinary (TD) and a Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) initiative was conceptualized, developed, implemented, and sustained at a small academic institution with limited research infrastructure, emphasizing the role of capacity building.

Most examples of the implementation of TD research come from large-scale initiatives in research-intensive institutions or centers with multiple resources to establish collaborations among experts from different disciplines. However less is known about the implementation of TD and CBPR initiatives in small academic settings.

This paper includes a discussion of the challenges and lessons learned of this process in a teaching-intensive Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), which included a research component as part of the institutional priorities when it transitioned to a 4-year college in 2001.

We hope that our experience helps other researchers in similar institutions to engage in this type of research.

In this case, a collaborative TD and CBPR initiative was successfully implemented despite limited resources for capacity building and research infrastructure, as well as diversity among researchers and community members.

To sustain institutional collaborative capacity in this type of institution, authors recommend continuous capacity building efforts and the development of modules and/or courses to provide formal TD training for junior faculty while encouraging researchers to interact and collaborate. In addition, the importance of the role of the community liaison is highlighted.

Successful TD and CBPR initiatives may have a positive impact on the reduction or elimination of health disparities which involve complex phenomena that requires a broad view from different perspectives.

Even though capacity building can facilitate the implementation of TD and CBPR, many challenges arise as an inherent result of community engagement and the integration of different disciplines. Thus, the need of continuous reflection to acknowledge them becomes critical for advancing TD and CBPR efforts.

transdisciplinary research, community based participatory research, capacity building, Hispanic Serving Institution
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