5.1 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The committee explored challenges to facilitating convergence, as well as strategies that have been employed by existing convergence programs to address barriers. Based on its analysis of convergence programs established at institutions across the country and the feedback and participation of scientists from graduate students to deans, the committee arrived at the following conclusions and recommendations. While convergence is one of many paths to national scientific and technological leadership, this report documents its emergence as one important mechanism for generating new knowledge, training new students, and contributing to the future of the nation’s economy.

Conclusion: Convergence is a process that leads to significant advances in fundamental knowledge, the creation of new, problem-driven solutions, and strategies for educating the next generation of STEM professionals.

Discipline-based science has produced a wealth of information across disparate fields. As a result, researchers now have unprecedented opportunities to attack challenging and complex problems. At a time when ideas, methods, models, and intellectual approaches of many fields are being synthesized into an integrated approach to problems of great importance, convergence represents a model that may become increasingly important to scientific discovery and translational application. At the same time, it coexists with many other models of multi- or transdisciplinary approaches, unidisciplinary projects, single–principal investigator (PI) projects, team-based projects, pure basic science, and pure applied science—adding value to the nation’s research enterprise. Given this plurality, convergence is one meeting point for many types of complementary initiatives.

Conclusion: A “one-size-fits-all” approach is not possible when developing an environment that fosters convergence. Differences in institutional size, mission, budgets, and policies impose unique challenges. Nonetheless, essential characteristics of environments supporting convergence can be identified.

Organizations wishing to establish or enhance a supportive environment for convergence can draw ideas, models, strategies, and lessons from examples at existing institutions in academia, industry, and government. This report has highlighted a variety of such strategies, ranging from journal clubs to innovative building design to the creation of entre-



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