In May 2004, the Society for Community Research and Action—a division of the American Psychological Association that works to bring together people from various disciplines to promote human and community wellness—sponsored a conference to enhance interdisciplinary collaboration in community-based research.
To make a substantive difference in addressing the compelling social problems of our times—health, education, housing, poverty—collaborative, interdisciplinary inquiry and action are required, according to David G. Altman, PhD, the project director.
However, many barriers have prevented the widespread adoption of interdisciplinary research and training approaches. In addition, although exemplary interdisciplinary efforts exist, they are not well disseminated or utilized.
The conference, "Enhancing Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Community-Based Research," held on May 20–23, 2004, at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., drew 80 researchers, including three interdisciplinary teams working in the field. The goals of the conference were to identify and clarify:
The three featured interdisciplinary research teams, and a fourth presenter, discussed the challenges, successes and lessons of their collaborations. The presentations and the resulting discussions indicated that such collaborations are not necessarily easy. However, satisfying, manageable and useful community-based interdisciplinary work is clearly feasible.Conference organizers issued an invitation to the participants to submit papers for a special issue of the American Journal of Community Psychology focusing on community-based interdisciplinary research. The result was a special 139-page issue of the American Journal of Community Psychology (Vol. 38, Nos. 1/2, 2006) entitled Community-Based Interdisciplinary Research: Prospects, Processes, and Approaches.
The issue contains 12 articles authored by conference participants; representative examples include: