2020 Business meeting

The 2020 business meeting was held online on Monday August 24 following this agenda and attached business case for establishing an interim secretariat (PDF 237KB).

Attendees: Derrick Armstrong, Gabriele Bammer, Paul Bertsch, Tim Colmer, Chris Cocklin, Alec Ekeroma, Nick Evans, Iain Gordon, Pablo Gregorini, Kate Henne, Mark Howden, Jacek Jasieniak, Stewart Lockie, Louise McWhinnie, Janet Nelson, Rachel Parker, Rob Raven, Roger Robson-Williams, Allanah Ryan, Huhana Smith, Ken Taylor, Dan Walker, Stuart White.

Apologies: Ken Baldwin, Andrea Byrom, Andrew Campbell, Saul Cunningham, Jennifer Dixon, Nicky Grigg, Bronwyn Harch, Libby Harrison, Ken Hughey, Duncan Ivison, Stephen Simpson, Iain Walker, Tayanah O’Donnell, Laurent Rivory, Paul Tapsell, Erika Techera

Guest speaker: Klement Tockner

Co-chairs: Gabriele Bammer and Ken Taylor
Technical assistance: Eleanor Robson

1. Welcome and introductions
In their introductions, participants identified what they hoped NITRO-Oceania would achieve, including:

  • Establishing a dynamic community of practice for leaders to:
    o Share learnings on leadership of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary organisations and how such organisations operate
    o Share and test ideas about how to do interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research
    o Share opportunities and challenges
    o Build best practice in interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity
    o Achieve more effective outcomes through interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research
  • Build and strengthen interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research capacity in their own organisations
  • Build recognition of the importance of art and design, as well as indigenous, Māori, and Pacific knowledges of place, as grounding for all interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary projects
  • Strengthen the role of community engagement, indigenous knowledge and indigenous science in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research
  • Build collegiality among leaders of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary organisations to provide support and resources
  • Change universities by connecting them to communities of interest
  • As the peak organization representing interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research and education, be an active voice in research and education policy and funding decisions
  • Advance intellectual and practical agendas around transdisciplinarity.

2. Brief overview of activities
A description of activities is available at: https://nitro-oceania.net/activities/.
A summary was also provided in the document attached to the agenda (Business case for establishing an interim secretariat – link provided above).
For automatic notification of new activities: “SUBSCRIBE FOR UPDATES” in the right hand column of this website.

3. Future plans and funding – establishing an interim secretariat
The business case for establishing an interim secretariat was circulated prior to the meeting (link provided above).

The majority supported or strongly supported NITRO-Oceania moving in the direction of having a funded secretariat. There was no opposition.

4. Proposal for three new membership categories
Current members hold a leadership role in an interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary research organisation in the Oceania region and agree with the aims of the Network. Three new categories were proposed:

  • Honorary members (those who have stepped down from leadership positions in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary organisations and who continue to support the aims of NITRO-Oceania)
  • Aspiring leaders (interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary researchers who are not currently in leadership positions and who support the aims of NITRO-Oceania)
  •  International members (people who hold leadership positions in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary organisations outside Oceania and who support the aims of NITRO-Oceania).

A terminology change was suggested for consideration by the new Executive, specifically:
• “Future leaders” to replace “Aspiring leaders”
• “Global members” to replace “International members.”

There was majority support for the development of all three new membership categories.

5. Nominations for the NITRO-Oceania Executive (2020-2021)
For members of the current executive see: https://nitro-oceania.net/members/
Executive Members are asked to:

  • Attend monthly (approximately) video-conferences
  • Actively participate in discussions about NITRO-Oceania-related matters
  • Where possible, be proactive in furthering the interests and activities of NITRO-Oceania.

The aim is to keep the Executive at between 6 and 10 members, with at least 60% currently be in leadership positions in Oceania.

Willingness to be involved in the new Executive will be solicited off-line.

6. Opportunities for members
The many ways that members can contribute to the activities of NITRO-Oceania were discussed, including:

  • Recruiting other members
  • Developing success stories or impact narratives
  • Participating in the activities of one or more working groups (see https://nitro-oceania.net/activities/working-groups/)
  • Forming a new working group eg (for Australian members) to respond to the ARC consultation on Excellence for Research in Australia and the Engagement and Impact Assessment (due 12 October, 2020)
  • Where appropriate, representing NITRO-Oceania in day-to-day activities.

Particular interest was expressed in the following, with the understanding that each of these activities will appeal to a subset of members:

  • Discussing and writing a paper on how/why the current economic circumstances should provide a trigger for the transformation of university research towards more interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research. This could build on a 2013 paper by Paul Bertsch and colleague; ‘Reshaping Land Grant Institutions to Solve the Global Grand Challenges of the 21st Century’ (https://doi.org/10.2134/csa2013-58-9-17)
  • Increasing awareness and advocacy for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research as the only way forward on some of the problems facing society, including the importance of industry-engaged research
  • Linking members through regular interactions to get a stronger sense of what everyone is doing, share resources (especially those developed in member organisations), facilitate collegiality and accessibility, and build a sense of inclusion
  • Providing skills development and training in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research
  • Nailing the value proposition for existing leaders, especially by being responsive to particular leader concerns
  • Finding ways to support the inclusion of arts, social sciences, Maori visual culture, and indigenous knowledge in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research
Attendees at the second meeting of leaders in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research and education organisations in the Oceania region

7. Guest Speaker and Discussion
Professor Klement Tockner, President of the Austrian Science Fund, talked about how he implemented his vision to fund interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research. Ten non-members also attended the talk.

Biography: Klement Tockner is president of the Austrian Science Fund – FWF (Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung: https://www.fwf.ac.at/en/). He is also full professor for Aquatic Ecology at the Free University Berlin and former director of the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), Berlin. He received a PhD from the University of Vienna (1993) and a Titulary Professorship at ETH (2005). He is an internationally leading freshwater scientist, in particular in the research domains biodiversity, ecosystem science and environmental management. He is Co-Editor of the journal Aquatic Sciences and Subject Editor of the journal Ecosystems. He has published more than 200 scientific papers including 127 ISI papers. In 2009, he edited a comprehensive book on European Rivers (Rivers of Europe, Elsevier). Klement Tockner has successfully managed large inter- and transdisciplinary projects such as the EC-funded project BioFresh (www.freshwaterbiodiversity.eu). He is member of several scientific committees and advisory boards and elected member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the German Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina.

Professor Tockner described three programs:

He outlined some of the challenges and lessons learnt and his talk was followed by a lively discussion.


Guest speaker: Professor Klement Tockner