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Workshop toolkit

Toolkit for Cross-Disciplinary Workshops

Get the toolkit here

Summary

This toolkit shares insights and strategies from our 2021 pilot Open Problem Workshop series. We asked how might we help rethink how real world problems call for the expertise of PhDs from all fields?

For those interested in hosting a cross-disciplinary workshop, we have assembled a toolkit of nine activities and suggestions on how to facilitate those activities in an online, collaborative setting. We uncovered three core insights and five guideposts for building successful cross-disciplinary workshops.

We believe that openness requires us to empower other communities to replicate, fork, and remix our insights.

Why did we build this toolkit?

Folks with a PhD are often quite interested in complex, challenging issues that face the world, but they can struggle to understand how they can contribute to these issues meaningfully when they are trying to shift their focus outside of academia.

Similarly, fields that need wide ranging expertise often don’t know what folks with a PhD do, and do not know which experts to turn to. They may have a hunch there are things that would be helpful to learn from anthropologists, linguists, philosophers, historians and other scholars, but they don’t know where to start looking for those people, and how to get the input they need from the experts they do talk to.

Open Post Academics is focused on that gap. How might we build new bridges between folks with PhDs and communities around pressing global problems? How might we help rethink how real world problems call for the expertise of PhDs from all fields?

A topic such as big data or machine learning is a helpful example of a broad issue that could use a bridge of this sort. For people with a humanities or social science PhD, these fields can seem like the sole domain of data scientists, engineers and folks from STEM. And yet, these are transformative technologies of our time and they are and have rewritten the way that we function as a society. We need to find ways to bridge the work of these fields with broader expertise and more collaboration among those who work in data science.

We ran a workshop in 2021 which was funded by the inaugural Code for Science & Society Event Fund Grant. OPA is known for bringing online collaborative open workshops to bridge best practices from the open science community and the worlds of social science, the humanities and pedagogy. We wanted to bring those skills to the problem of how to connect the data science community with folks with a PhD.

Our goal was to develop an approach to cross-disciplinary events that

  1. Leverages insights and participation from across many disciplines
  2. Helps explore the fit between problems in the data science community and resources of PhDs from outside data science and
  3. Creates a model adaptable to other kinds of cross-disciplinary collaborations

We believe that openness requires us to empower other communities to replicate, fork, and remix our insights. This is why we’re proud to share the resulting toolkit as a starting model and set of resources for cross-disciplinary collaborations.

The toolkit articulates the insights we gained and invites readers to look at the specifics of our Open Problem Workshop Series pilot as a case study in how to turn those insights into action, especially in the challenging conditions of online-first events. For those interested in hosting a cross-disciplinary workshop, we have assembled a toolkit of nine activities and suggestions for how to facilitate those activities in an online, collaborative setting.

We uncovered three core insights and five guideposts for building successful cross-disciplinary workshops. These are hopefully pieces that folks can adapt and include in any kind of cross-disciplinary workshop they might run.

Let us know how you use these materials, we’d love to learn from your experiences!

Keywords: Cross-disciplinary, Open workshops, Open knowledge, Open science

Co-authors: Beth M. Duckles, Borhane Blili-Hamelin, Marie-Ève Monette

Design by Borhane Blili-Hamelin

Toolkit editor: Debra Erickson

Grant writers: Alexis Cooke, Beth M. Duckles, Betsy A. Brunner, Borhane Blili-Hamelin, Carina Moss, Marie-Eve Monette, Mrin Bhattacharya, Ran Xiang, Sara Schley, Stavana Strutz, and Susan T. Jackson

This project was made possible by a grant from Code for Science & Society.

Get the Toolkit here: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6026972