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The Toolbox Prompts Used in the C4I Strategic Planning Workshops

Table of Contents:

Module Theme


Nature of


  • 1 An interdisciplinary project can be successful even if no project member understands all parts of the project.
  • 2 Interdisciplinarity is key to successful teaching and learning about complex real-world problems.
  • 3 Interdisciplinarity is a meaningless buzzword.
  • 4 One cannot be an interdisciplinary expert without being a disciplinary expert.
  • 5 It is more difficult to be successful in an interdisciplinary project than it is in a disciplinary project.
  • 6 Your interdisciplinary research is not finished until it is communicated to the public.
  • 7 An individual can be interdisciplinary.
  • 8 STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] disciplines are unfairly emphasized over the arts and humanities in interdisciplinary research.

Interdisciplinarity at MSU

  • 1 The possibility of funding is the best reason to engage in interdisciplinary research.
  • 2 MSU must present a common definition of interdisciplinarity.
  • 3 MSU should provide financial support for integrating the arts and humanities into interdisciplinary research.
  • 4 I would pursue more interdisciplinary work on campus if I had opportunities to meet other scholars from across campus.
  • 5 MSU’s interest in interdisciplinarity is reflected in MSU’s expectations of scholars.
  • 6 I know to whom I should talk about doing interdisciplinary research at MSU.
  • 7 If I had more support from my department, I would engage in more interdisciplinary work.
  • 8 There are interdisciplinary leadership opportunities available to me at MSU.

Module Theme


Engaging with Communities

  • 1 Scholars have as much to learn from community members as community members do from scholars.
  • 2 MSU should provide more internal funding to support universitycommunity partnerships.
  • 3 Community engagement through the arts and humanities creates opportunities for unique interdisciplinary projects.
  • 4 Not all community engagement needs to involve research.
  • 5 MSU must focus on non-academic career training for graduate students and postdocs.
  • 6 MSU must offer collaborative interdisciplinary experiences for graduate students.
  • 7 Community engaged interdisciplinary research should be a priority for C4I due to MSU’s land grant status.
  • 8 MSU does a good job of integrating community members as active partners in research.


Each prompt is associated in the instrument with a rating scale (1 = disagree, 5 = agree).


The authors would like to thank the members of the Michigan State University community who participated in the strategic planning workshops described in this chapter. We would also like to thank Evelyn Brister and Robert Frodeman for their careful review of previous versions of this chapter and for all their advice. O’Rourke’s work on this chapter was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch project 1016959.


  • 1 Thanks to Stephen Crowley for this way of looking at the UI-CATIE IGERT model.
  • 2 We know of no other extant, philosophically-based effort that pursues the same facili-tative or research goals as TDI. There is a similarity, though, with Otto Neurath’s work developing and promulgating ISOTYPE, the International System Of Typographic Picture Education, as a resource for the “public communication of historical and statistical information” and, more generally, visual education (Cat 2014). Thanks to Evelyn Brister for calling our attention to the relevance of Neurath’s work, and to Brister and Eric Schliesser for discussion of his ideas.
  • 3 Our two most-cited Toolbox papers—Eigenbrode et al. (2007) at 234 and O’Rourke and Crowley (2013) at 87 (Google Scholar, December 31, 2018)—have user profiles that support this strategy: 41.4 percent of the citing papers for O’Rourke and Crowley (2013) are explicitly philosophical by virtue of their title or place of publication, whereas only 6.8 percent of the citing papers for Eigenbrode et al. (2007) are explicitly philosophical. This is a reflection of their venues—O’Rourke and Crowley (2013) was published in Synthese, whereas Eigenbrode et al. (2007) was published in BioScience—and is a reason to publish work in philosophical journals if we are serious about having an influence on traditional philosophical practice. For more on our interest in leveraging reflection on interdisciplinarity to contribute to the philosophical literature, see Crowley et al. (2016).
  • 4 Although separate entities, TDI is dependent for administrative and financial support on C4I.
  • 5 In an application of the Toolbox approach involving the responsible conduct of research, we have returned to a more engaged facilitation approach—one we have referred to as “Socrates in the room” (Pennock and O’Rourke 2017). This is consistent with the more didactic role of these “Scientific virtues” Toolbox workshops.


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