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Toolbox Workshop at Columbia University

February 2, 2015 at 2:16 am

The Toolbox Project conducted two workshops at Columbia University’s College of Nursing. The Project partnered with Columbia’s Elaine Larson and Melissa Begg to work with the doctoral students enrolled in the “Building Interdisciplinary Research Models” course. Two Toolbox representatives, Michael O’Rourke (Michigan State) and Brian Robinson (Michigan State), facilitated two sessions with the students using the Health Sciences Toolbox Instrument. Contributors to the discussions were reflective, insightful, and willing to engage when their views diverged. Both sessions highlighted concepts (e.g., disease, control) that are central to interdisciplinary practice in the health sciences and could divide collaborators.

In a new development for the Toolbox Project, the class will experience an extended deployment of the Health Sciences Toolbox Instrument. This instrument consist of six modules: Motivation, Values, Reductionism, Research Approaches, Methodology, and Confirmation. Prompts in these modules focuses on specific related issues in health sciences. For each of the next six weeks, the class will spend a portion of their class time in small group discussion on one module. Amanda Hessels (Columbia) will lead these sessions.

Toolbox Workshops at Tri-State EPSCoR meeting in New Mexico

January 19, 2015 at 9:20 pm

The Toolbox Project conducted two successful workshops as part of the Winter Tri-State Meeting of the Western Consortium for Watershed Analysis, Visualization and Exploration (WC-WAVE) in Albuquerque, New Mexico on 13 January 2015. Two Toolbox representatives, Sanford Eigenbrode (Idaho) and Michael O’Rourke (Michigan State), facilitated separate workshops, assisted by WC-WAVE personnel. Thirty WC-WAVE project members participated in the workshops, which ranged over issues related to modeling, uncertainty, the value of basic research, and objectivity. WC-WAVE is part of the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Track 2 Research Infrastructure Improvement Program. WC-WAVE goal is to “enable integration of creative observation and analytical strategies using advanced modeling approaches and CI in a virtual watershed platform” (http://westernconsortium.org).

O’Rourke at the APA

December 12, 2014 at 4:32 am

MO113_editedProf. Michal O’Rourke will be speaking at this year’s American Philosophical Association’s Eastern Division Conference in Philadelphia. He’ll be speaking on “Prepositional Attitudes and Socially Relevant Philosophy” during the Socially Relevant Philosophy of/in Science and Engineering (SRPoiSE) session.

If you’re at the conference, be sure to come by. It should be an exciting talk and session.

Toolbox and K-12

November 25, 2014 at 4:26 am

toolbox_logoLast Friday Michael O’Rourke and Brian Robinson presented the Toolbox Project to the Kellogg Biological Station’s GK-12 Bioenergy Sustainability Project. This project is Michigan State’s program (funded by the National Science Foundation) that puts Graduate STEM students in K-12 classrooms. We got to hear about some of the exciting experiments on bioenergy sustainability that they are doing with the kids to help teach how science is done (as opposed to just conveying scientific findings).

gk126Michael and Brian presented the Toolbox methodology and ran the grad students through an abbreviated Toolbox Workshop. Since the graduate students come from a variety of STEM fields, what their doing is a kind of interdisciplinary endeavor, albeit pedagogical instead of research. We had them complete Toolbox modules on the purpose of science and confirmation and then dialogue on those topics. As we hoped, a variety of views were expressed. As they talked, several of them verbally expressed that articulating their assumptions about science grew harder as the dialogue proceeded. This was precisely our goal, as we believe it will help them as science communicators.

After the presentation and workshop, we discussed with the grad students the possibility of using the Toolbox method for facilitated dialogues in the classroom (with modified, easier prompts) or for training K-12 science teachers. Both ideas were well received and the grad students gave some great feedback and ideas. Both of these would be exciting new avenues to expand the Toolbox into and we may have updates next term on our efforts.


cross-posted on Brian Robinson’s site: Ceteris Paribus

Toolbox at the ASC, CSSA, and SSSA Annual Meeting

November 18, 2014 at 8:25 pm

On November 15 at the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Soil Science Society of America, & Soil Science Society of America International Annual Meeting, Jodi Johnson-Maynard (Idaho) presented work on behalf of the Toolbox and Drs. O’Rourke (Michigan State), Robinson (Michigan State), Janet Rachlow (Idaho), and Eigenbrode (Idaho).

The presentation (“Building Interdisciplinary Communication Skills”) focuses on the collaboration of the Toolbox Project and the University of Idaho’s CRISSP Research Undergraduate Experience (REU). REU has been employing Toolbox workshops for several years now to help train their students in interdisciplinary communication. We reported some new findings on successful outcomes of the Toolbox workshop with these undergraduates.

Toolbox @ The West Michigan Climate Resiliency Conference

October 1, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Next week in Grand Rapids, the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum is hosting The West Michigan Climate Resiliency Conference. We at the Toolbox Project are excited about this conference since they have invited us to be a significant part of the event. We will conduct a large-scale deployment of a unique Toolbox instrument during the conference.

Over the past year and in conjunction with the Rock Ethics Institute, we have interviewed a large number of individuals associated with the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum to assess what topics and issues regarding climate resiliency in West Michigan. We’ve taken this data and created a unique Toolbox instrument specifically for this audience. We will conduct both facilitated and non-facilitated workshops will all of the conference participants.

If you’re already coming the conference, we look forward to seeing you there. If not and you’re in the Grand Rapids area, you can show up that morning to register, so come.

New Post-Doc: Brian Robinson

August 10, 2014 at 9:15 pm

We are happy to welcome Brian Robinsonbrian_robinson to the Toolbox Project as our new postdoctoral researcher. He will be joining Michael O’Rourke at Michigan State. He completed his PhD in 2011 at the City University of New York. He’s coming to us from grand Valley State University, where he has been a visiting professor for the last three years. We are excited about the contributions he will make to the project.

Departing Post-Doc: Chad Gonnerman

July 3, 2014 at 4:26 am

cgonnermanWe are happy to announce that our Chad Gonnerman (who has been a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Michigan State working on the Toolbox) will be moving on to greener pastures. He has accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern Indiana.

We are thankful that though he’s leaving Michigan State, he is not leaving the Toolbox Project. He plans to continue all the terrific research he started this past year.

New Website

May 1, 2014 at 4:23 am

We are excited to unveil our new website here at www.toolbox-project.org. We’re still migrating some material from our old site, so please be patient as this site gets up and running. We’ll be adding content regularly.

Toolbox @ the Workshop on Integration in Biology and Biomedicine

May 4, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Crowley and O’Rourke represented the Toolbox Project at the Workshop on Integration in Biology and Biomedicine at the University of Sydney. Their presentation was on “Using Philosophy of Science in Interventions to Facilitate Disciplinary Integration“.