Transdisciplinary Challenge Award

With ongoing funding from Chancellor Michael Lovell, and an initial two-year contribution from the Graduate School, the Center for 21st Century Studies’ Transdisciplinary Challenge Award encourages collaborative research projects that bring together UWM researchers from our traditional constituencies in the humanities, arts, and humanistic social sciences with researchers from natural, physical, and quantitative social sciences.

This initiative is designed to prompt researchers from any disciplinary background to think in unexpected and untried ways about working with researchers in disciplines whose methodology, content, and institutional practices are unfamiliar to them. Although this is not the kind of research with which most academics have experience, we are convinced that this kind of research will become increasingly prevalent and necessary in the 21st century. The aim of this award is not only to generate new research approaches to the complex problems of the 21st century but also to provide models for how researchers from disciplines that do not have a history of collaboration can work together to meet the complex, heterogeneous challenges of the 21st century.

2014 Transdisciplinary Challenge

For the 2014-15 academic year, we awarded a total of $235,000 in funding to two research projects and one semester-long seminar for ten UWM faculty fellows:

Catalyzing Transdisciplinarity: Cancer-Obesity Comorbidity as a Wicked Problem in Urban Milwaukee

$100,000 in total funding, over one year

     S. Scott Graham (English)
     Amy Harley (School of Public Health, Center for Urban Population Health)
     Sang-Yeon Kim (Communication)
     Joan Neuner (Medical College of Wisconsin)

Transforming Justice: Rethinking the Politics of Security, Mass Incarceration, and Community Health

$85,000 in total funding, over one year

     Anne Bonds (Geography)
     Lorraine Halinka Malcoe (Public Health)
     Jenna Loyd (Public Health)
     Jenny Plevin (Film)
     Robert S. Smith (History)

Trandisciplinary Challenge Seminar: LANGUAGE

One-course buyout, Fall semester

     Marcus Bullock (English, emeritus)
     Nicholas Fleischer (Linguistics)
     Sabine Heuer (Communication Sciences and Disorders)
     Michael Liston (Philosophy)
     Margaret Noodin (English, American Indian Studies)
     Bernard Perley (Anthropology)
     Anne Pycha (Linguistics)
     Amanda Schoofs (Music)
     Robert Schwartz (Philosophy)
     Jae Yung Song (Communication Sciences and Disorders, Linguistics)

If you'd like to know more about the Transdisciplinary Challege program, you can consult these expired Call for Fellows (Seminar) and Request for Projects below. Please be aware, however, that details may change by next year.

Call for Fellows: Seminar and Workshop Series (One Semester)

This seminar is meant to bring together researchers from different disciplines and different methodological perspectives working on a common topic or problem in order to further transdisciplinary knowledge of that topic, and to promote transdisciplinary collaboration and research across UWM. The seminar theme for 2014 is LANGUAGE.

Application deadline: January 31, 2014  EXPIRED

Request for Projects: Transdisciplinary Challenges for the 21st Century (One Year)

A substantive one-year award will be made to a collaborative research project which brings together UWM researchers from the Center’s traditional constituencies in the humanities, arts, and humanistic social sciences with researchers from natural, physical, and quantitative social sciences. Other smaller awards may be given to encourage promising projects for future development. The award will target project start dates near July 1, 2014. Milestones:


Informational Meeting/Statement of Interest | December 6, 2013

Pre-Proposals Due | January 17, 2014

Proposals Due | February 28, 2014

Previous Transdisciplinary Challenge Awardees


Seminar and Workshop Series

One-course buyout, Fall semester

To assist UWM researchers to break out of their professional constraints in order to develop research questions and methods that combine seemingly incompatible disciplines in new and productive ways

     Shannon Chavez-Korell (Educational Psychology)
     Kamran Diba (Psychology)
     Rina Ghose (Geography)
     S. Scott Graham (English)
     Amy Harley (Public Health)
     Sang-Yeon Kim (Communication)
     Rina Kundu (Art and Design)
     Simon Mu (Information Studies)
     Patricia Torres Najera (Center for Urban Initiatives and Research)
     Nelva Olin (United Community Center)
     Ramin Pashaie (Engineering)
     Nathaniel Stern (Art and Design)
     Marc Tasman (Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies)

The Seminar and Workshop Series included visits from a number of outstanding transdisciplinary researchers from outside of UWM, including Oron Catts (Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, University of Western Australia), Robert Markley (English, University of Illinois), Irene Klaver (Philosophy, University of North Texas), and Sai Suryan (Community and Environmental Sociology, UW-Madison). These researchers participated in the seminar and worked one-on-one with the Transdisciplinary Fellows to develop research proposals for the 2014-15 Transdisciplinary Challenge project.


21st Century Voices: Synthesized Speech in the Third Millennium

$200,000 in total funding, over two years

     Yi Hu (Electrical Engineering and Computer Design)

     Shelley Lund (Communication Sciences and Disorders)

     Patricia Mayes (English)

     Heather Warren-Crow (Art and Design)

     “When ‘Speech’ Is Not a ‘Voice,’” UWM feature story

Intention and Attention: Transmodernism and Integration in Human Movement Studies

$50,000 in total funding, over two years, to further develop the proposal, find additional scholars to contribute to the project (especially in neuroscience), and to begin pursuing the research

     Wendy Huddleston (Kinesiology)

     Luc Vanier (Dance)

     "Exploring Movement and the Mind," UWM feature story


Escaping Flatland: (Re-)Writing the Histories, Geographies, and Borderland Ecologies of Water

$300,000 in total funding, over two years

     Manu Sobti (Architecture and Urban Planning)

     Timothy J. Ehlinger (Biological Sciences)

     Ryan B. Holifield (Geography)

     "A Model for Managing Resources across Borders," UWM feature story

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