The main objective of the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) in Urban Ecology is to educate a new kind of life, earth, or social scientist who is broader, more flexible, more collaborative, and more adept at linking science and social issues.
Training is built on a model emphasizing collaboration and teamwork. Fellows can earn degrees in a core discipline of the life, earth, or social science. They also participate in team research, courses, and seminars that emphasize integration among collaborative components beyond the student's home discipline. Collectively, these activities afford skills that are broadly applicable to careers in public and private sectors and in academia.
Urban Ecology: An Integrating Theme
Urban ecology is the organizing research theme of our IGERT. This theme incorporates the spatial scale characteristic of urban regions, the long-term perspective of the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program, and a comparative view of natural and human-dominated systems. The organizing question of the Central Arizona–Phoenix LTER is:
How does the pattern of development of cities alter ecological conditions of the cities and their surrounding environments, and how do ecological changes feed back on further development via the human social system?
This question obviously takes a different form in the collective mind of each discipline of our program; however, within each, it is inherently integrative (drawing broadly from subdisciplines). Even more significant is that by analyzing approaches to and answers from an array of disciplines, we can achieve what might be considered a meta-integration provided by a interdisciplinary perspective.
IGERT 2, our second five-year funding period, builds upon substantial investment over the past five years and effectiveness won by concerted trial and error. This phase coincides with a major reorganization of ASU's four campuses, a synthesis of several new schools from traditional departments, and a focus on interdisciplinarity as an organizing principle. IGERT faculty members and students are strategically placed to both inform and influence this reorganization. A new University Initiative on Disciplinary Integration has been stimulated in part by IGERT activities and involves IGERT faculty members as leaders. The broader impact of this effort lies in its scientific understanding of urban dynamics and in a lowering of discipline-related barriers to innovative, socially relevant graduate education at this and other American universities.