Developing the Tools to Manage Complex Crises: Training Students in Interdisciplinarity

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With an increase in globalization and the rise of new and reemerging diseases, there is potential for widespread disease outbreaks and dissemination. Evidence shows individuals with an established appreciation for, and understanding of, an interdisciplinary framework for problem solving have an advantage in dealing with major global crises. The Integrated Training Program in Infectious Disease, Food Safety and Public Policy (ITraP) was recently developed at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, to build these interdisciplinary skills in young professionals. This article presents the benefits and advantages of this type of training, by providing real-world examples of how knowledge and skills emphasized in ITraP teachings provide methods to assist in controlling epidemic situations. Moreover, to further the conversation about these training programs and to aid groups who are considering developing similar programs, this article discusses lessons learned from the first few years of ITraP’s inception, including the major barriers to success. We found that although interdisciplinary training programs are becoming increasingly necessary to deal with problems in our complex world, there are still a multitude of obstacles to be considered prior to the development and implementation of such a multifaceted program. Therefore, it is important that as these types of training programs begin to grow and evolve, researchers begin a dialogue regarding what types of teaching methods to employ, what interdisciplinary theories to use, and whether there is any evidence of success and sustainability.

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