Interdisciplinary cooperation: is it like a middle school dance at first?

I can see it now – animal scientists lined up along one wall, veterinarians lined up along the other.  Every once and awhile someone wanders over to the punch bowl.  Finally they play the Macarena and a few brave souls wander out to the dance floor but lose heart half way through and slink back to their respective walls.

I recently attended a conference that was mostly comprised of animal scientists and it struck me, as one of the few veterinarians in attendance, that we ought to make more of an effort to work together.  Of course, I was also one of the only women in attendance, and it’s tempting to blame the sparse and ineffectual communication between the two fields on the fact that the are so male-dominated.  But despite all the stereotypes I must insist that one cannot make sweeping generalizations about the communicating abilities of men vs women.  That being said, it occurred to me that someone ought to champion the effort to bring animal scientists and veterinarians into more of a working partnership, a symbiotic relationship, if you will, rather than a tolerance of the other’s existance.  Right now, it seems to me, each profession at its best will ignore the other, and at its worst may overtly undermine the other.  I must admit that I have little hope of changing things.  And I wouldn’t even know where to start.

For those who are in interdisciplinary fields, how does it work?  Who started it?  What was the tipping point?  I’d be grateful for any thoughts or insight…

Category(s): PFP13F

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