Social work researchers involved in interdisciplinary collaborations require supportive environments that allow them to work with multiple disciplines across multiple departments. Conducting interdisciplinary research takes willingness on the part of the researcher to venture into new fields and to be open to the cultures and values of other disciplines. The researcher is responsible for communicating the benefits of interdisciplinary research to potential collaborators and key stakeholders, including funding sources, academic institutions, and the general public. New scientists must be equipped with a versatile skill set that enables them to meet the challenges of building an interdisciplinary program of research. Postdoctoral training and career development programs offer new PhDs and junior faculty the didactic and research experiences necessary to lead and engage in integrative approaches to solving complex social problems.
This roundtable will begin a dialogue about the opportunities and challenges in interdisciplinary early career training for social work researchers. Presenters will focus on the benefits of interdisciplinary training for individuals, researchers, schools, and the field as a whole. The barriers to successfully attaining and carrying out interdisciplinary training will also be addressed. Two experienced mentors, Dr. Jan Greenberg and Dr. Enola Proctor, will offer insight into the postdoctoral training experience for both prospective trainees and potential mentors. They will describe the characteristics of interdisciplinary training environments that promote the successful development of junior investigators. In addition, they will offer suggestions for developing the framework and securing support for postdoctoral trainees in such settings. In addition, Kelly Aschbrenner and Amy Mendenhall will share their current experiences as postdoctoral trainees in interdisciplinary settings. Finally, SSWR President, Dr. Sarah Gehlert, will address the advantages and challenges of interdisciplinary early career training for the field as a whole.
Our overall goal is to stimulate conversation that will raise awareness of the benefits and barriers to interdisciplinary training for junior investigators, and to identify ways to expand current training opportunities in social work research.