Without a multidisciplinary research strategy, there is limited hope of meeting the global challenges of a changing climate. Academia can be more efficient, deliver better results and get more science done if we provide our scientists with infrastructure and arenas for multidisciplinary research.
The Bolin Centre for Climate Research, the Arctic Avenue, and the Arctic Science IntegrAtion Quest (ASIAQ) at Stockholm University represent such arenas. Benefiting from the support they provide, participating scientists can concentrate on what they do best – research – and thereby create the knowledge needed to tackle climate challenges and help society make decisions based on scientific facts.
Scientific material, results and methods must be openly accessible for society and decision makers. But science communication is a fragmented area, not only in terms of where research is published, but also regarding the communicative methods used. A lack of coordination between different departments, centers of expertise and special initiatives can also hamper effective communication of project outcomes and research results. Universities thus need to provide individual scientists with coordination help and communication support: activities which are at the core of Bolin Centre, Arctic Avenue and ASIAQ. By creating and maintaining these arenas, we lift the responsibility of scientific communication from enthusiastic individuals to an organizational level from which we can provide continuous support.
Through our outreach initiatives, we also provide society with a comprehensive understanding of the factors and processes that are involved in a changing climate and a changing Arctic. Our arenas create opportunities for academia to interact with society, and invite stakeholders as participants in producing, shaping and sharing research issues. An example is the Bolin Centre Climate Arena which supports cross-sector work aimed at “bending the curve” of climate change. We do so by developing long-lasting relationships between academic, public, business and policy sectors. Interacting with society and paying attention to how socio-economic issues interact with science, politics and technology is important for the evolution of climate research.
Platforms for multidisciplinary research are needed to ease the challenges of working across disciplinary boundaries – a must when it comes to climate research. Scientific practices, even fundamental things such as terminology, can be highly domain specific, which makes multidisciplinary research a challenge. Furthermore, some knowledge is so detailed, specific and advanced that it “ceases to exist” when it tries to move beyond its own discipline: a non-expert simply cannot understand and make use of it. Our arenas strive to break down institutional, disciplinary and technical barriers to allow for a more comprehensive understanding of the factors and processes involved in a changing climate. From this, knowledge can emerge and be jointly fostered in a way that would not be possible if scientists worked independently, lacking formal and structured collaboration support. In this way, the arenas provide us with something new, yet unexplored: a dynamic, learning-from-experience atmosphere from which significant contributions to the international knowledge in climate science and Arctic research can materialize.
Bolin Centre for Climate Research is a multi-disciplinary consortium of over 350 scientists in Sweden that conducts research and graduate education related to the Earth’s climate. The centre was formed in 2006 by Stockholm University and subsequently partnered with the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI).
Arctic Avenue is a spearhead research project between the University of Helsinki and Stockholm University. To boost already existing excellent cooperation, the two universities have decided to join forces through Arctic Avenue during 2019–2021.
ASIAQ unites six universities from three continents and four countries (Russia, Japan, USA and Sweden) in an endeavor to jointly advance research and education for a sustainable Arctic during 2018–2020.