“George”: How RIT is Encouraging Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Example of RIT's George cards for encouraging interdisciplinary research
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by Lisa Cook and Daniel Fusch, Academic Impressions

Institutions seeking to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration in research and teaching are pursuing an array of approaches: hiring faculty into multiple departments based on shared interdisciplinary interests, launching research initiatives that provide additional funding to get interdisciplinary projects off the ground, and providing shared research spaces. One of the challenges that often remains is that faculty often work in a relatively isolated manner, with little awareness of research, faculty work, or even faculty interest outside their own department.

"At first, we thought the problem was related to idea sharing. We learned that the problem existed earlier in the collaboration lifecycle − people didn't really know what other people did across campus."
Deborah Gears, RIT

The Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY has struck on a creative and unusual approach to bridging this knowledge and communication gap. RIT's new project, dubbed "George™," uses Scholar Trading Cards™ and a searchable faculty database to enhance networking among faculty.

It is a deceptively simple idea. Intrigued, we talked with Deborah Gears, RIT associate professor, College of Computing and Information Sciences, to learn more about:

  • What George™ is
  • How the college hopes the project will inspire collaboration
  • What other institutions might learn from RIT's model

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