Retrofitting the Ivory Tower: Engaging Global Sustainability Challenges through Interdisciplinary Problem-Oriented Education, Research, and Partnerships in U.S. Higher Education

Amy Patrick Mossman


Various experts and institutions, including the United Nations, have stressed the complexity of the 21st century’s global sustainability challenges. Higher education institutions should be at the center of research and education to meet these challenges. However, these institutions also find themselves in crisis, in part due to the economic recession, but also due to traditional disciplinary barriers that do not always incentivize interdisciplinary collaborations and public outreach. Challenges to interdisciplinarity are discussed, and examples of successful approaches are presented to demonstrate possibilities for prioritizing problem-oriented research and education tied to community and industry partnerships across higher education.


general education; interdisciplinarity; sustainability; partnerships

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