Transdisciplinary Challenge

From 2011-14, C21’s Transdisciplinary Challenge Award encouraged collaborative research projects that brought 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 was 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 still convinced that this kind of research will become increasingly prevalent and necessary in the 21st century. The aim of this award was 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.

Previous Transdisciplinary Challenge Awardees


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)


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)

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)


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)