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Institutes for Transdisciplinary Scholarship

Create impact through collaborative and community engaged research and scholarship

The Institutes for Transdisciplinary Scholarship are a connection point for the UCalgary community, from research institutes to individual scholars.

To address barriers to working between, across, and beyond traditional academic disciplines and in partnership with communities, the Institutes for Transdisciplinary Scholarship (ITS) at UCalgary provides resources and a collective approach to impact societal challenges and opportunities by facilitating collaboration, co-learning, and knowledge transformation informed by multiple perspectives. 

Areas of Focus

Our Areas of Focus are aimed at bringing together scholars from other faculties and non-academic partners with an eye toward surpassing our current boundaries.  These areas do not map onto faculties or specialties but instead intersect to support the development of integrated knowledge.  

Cities and Societies

Cities and Societies

Ways to design, plan, and build sustainable, healthy communities to ensure all societal members thrive. Considers technology, innovations in smart cities, transportation, infrastructure, biodiversity, healthy cities and populations, and designing for equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility.

Digital Worlds

Digital Worlds

How data can be used to expand and create connections to inform a world with no boundaries. Considers how we can harness new technologies and themes of extended reality, human connection and enrichment, intelligent tools, security, ethics, regulations and law, and socio-culture transformation.

Energy Futures

Energy Futures

The evolving energy system, how potential scenarios might develop over time, and the technological, economic, social, and political opportunities and challenges. Considers climate and environment, energy use and sources, politics and policy, economics, and the socio-cultural role of energy. ​ 

Health and Life

Health and Life

Child health and wellness, cancer, inflammatory and chronic diseases, brain and mental health, cardiovascular health, bone and joint health, public health, and others. Considers biomedical engineering, health informatics, nursing, and themes of biodiversity and health and wellbeing for people, animals, and the environment. Builds on UCalgary's network of health research institutes. 

Democracy, Justice, and Sustainability

Democracy, Justice, and Sustainability

Transforming institutions, governments, societies, and spaces to be equitable, inclusive, and diverse. Considers justice, democracy, freedom, autonomy, pluralism, anti-racism, and decolonization - through a lens of sustainability and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. *Intersects all focus areas. 

Our Approach to Transdisciplinary Research and Scholarship


Identify the essential elements 


Engage and collaborate within the campus and beyond 


Enhance opportunities for teams engaged in, or interested in, transdisciplinarity 

Transdisciplinary Scholarship: What Is It?

Dr. Jim Ellis and  Dr. Petra Dolata, lead scholars at The Calgary Institute for Humanities (CIH), delved into this inquiry through research, workshops, and webinars as well as their expertise and scholarship.

Transdisciplinary scholarship is directed towards a complex issue or problem, most often one with a social dimension. Because of the complexity of the issue or problem, it is best addressed by teams of researchers from multiple disciplines. To address the social dimension of the question, transdisciplinary scholarship incorporates knowledges from outside the university, through theoretical or creative approaches to societal issues, and ideally by including societal actors who are implicated in the issue or problem in question.

Working definition by the Calgary Institute for the Humanities through a deliberative process, 2023

Campus-Wide Events

To enhance collaboration and broaden our grasp of transdisciplinarity, faculty members, trainees, students, staff, and our industry and community partners are encouraged to participate in events, conferences, seminars, workshops, and more.

Expanding Transdisciplinarity and Creating Capacity

At UCalgary, the following programs have helped to develop new or existing transdisciplinary research and scholarship activities:

UCalgary Research Excellence Chairs

UCalgary Research Excellence Chairs (UCREC) is an internal chairs program that supports research excellence, nurtures talent, and promotes transdisciplinary collaborations that push knowledge boundaries. It recognizes scholars with highly distinguished accomplishments and research leadership.

Transdisciplinary Connector Grants

Transdisciplinary Connector Grants enable UCalgary teams to explore societal questions, challenges, and opportunities that demand a transdisciplinary approach. The program fosters new connections among scholars, trainees, and external partners. Applications are taken in four times yearly. 

Featured events

Development of Transdisciplinarity at UCalgary

Led by the Office of the Vice-President (Research), UCalgary allocates resources and supports transdisciplinary collaboration across our campuses and communities.

The University of Calgary's Strategic Plan

An objective of Ahead of Tomorrow is to expand transdisciplinary research and scholarship. By increasing collaboration between faculties and departments, scholars can bring together new approaches to tackle today's urgent issues.

The President’s Strategic Initiatives Fund

Start Something invests $18.9M in transdisciplinary scholarship. The purpose is to define transdisciplinarity for UCalgary, amplify and expand on existing capacity, build new capacity, and facilitate engagement with scholars, staff, the community, and industry.

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Thank you!

Get involved 

Contact us to learn about additional opportunities to help develop the future of transdisciplinary research and scholarship at UCalgary. 

ITS Team

Our team is keen to assist you in helping to advance your transdisciplinary scholarship initiatives.

Steven Bryant, Ph.D.

Steven Bryant, Ph.D.

Academic Lead, Transdisciplinary Scholarship

In his role as Academic Lead for Transdisciplinary Scholarship, Dr. Steven Bryant oversees collaboration and innovation activities to advance transdisciplinary research and scholarship at UCalgary. Holding the University's first inaugural Canada Excellence Research Chair in Materials Engineering, he has dedicated his research and strategy efforts to climate applications in energy. He was previously the University of Texas's Bank of America Centennial Professor in the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering. Prior to academia, Steven spent a decade working in industry research centers in Europe. He has published over 360 times on applications in production and reservoir engineering, formation evaluation, and CO2 storage. In 2021, he was the recipient of the Society of Petroleum Engineers Sustainability and Stewardship in the Oil and Gas Industry award.

Mariska Span-Smeelen

Mariska Span-Smeelen

Manager, Transdisciplinary Scholarship

Mariska Span-Smeelen is the Manager for Transdisciplinary Scholarship. She has a strong foundation in research administration and facilitation, a master's degree in industrial and organizational psychology from Radboud University in Nijmegen (NL), and expertise overseeing large-scale research projects. Mariska believes transdisciplinary scholarship holds the key to creating meaningful and sustainable impact on the challenges faced by our world and society.

Alanna Bartolini

Alanna Bartolini

Coordinator, Transdisciplinary Scholarship
(Digital Worlds)

Alanna Bartolini is the Coordinator for Digital Worlds and a digital humanities expert following PhD training at UC Santa Barbara. A former executive director of a nonprofit and co-author of a bill (now a law) to prevent sexual violence on campuses in California, she also brings with her legal expertise. Alanna believes data obtained through transdisciplinary work is essential for telling stories, enabling us to see trends, and providing a detailed view of the bigger picture to help solve problems.

Alya Jinah

Alya Jinah

Coordinator, Transdisciplinary Scholarship
(Democracy, Justice, and Sustainability)

Alya Jinah is the Coordinator for Democracy, Justice, and Sustainability. Her education and career have enabled her to collaborate with individuals from many fields including business, engineering, healthcare, and education. Alya was also a member of the team that launched the Creative Destruction Lab – Rockies (CDL). Leading her work with a curious mind and love for learning, she excels at creating frameworks for transdisciplinary collisions to occur, while cultivating a dynamic of inclusion, equity, and belonging.

Rineem Saleh

Rineem Saleh

Coordinator, Transdisciplinary Scholarship
(Cities and Societies)

Rineem Saleh joined UCalgary as the Coordinator focusing on our Cities and Societies component following her MSc research at KU Leuven looking at how City Foundations impact bigger-picture issues and negotiations within international politics. Her focus in transdisciplinary work is on how it is distinctively social, creative, and uses increasingly relevant approaches, extending communication not only across academia, industry, and even borders.

Connie Tsang

Connie Tsang

Coordinator, Transdisciplinary Scholarship
(Energy Futures)

Connie Tsang is the Coordinator in the Energy Futures portfolio. Her career spans many industries including government, energy and education. Connie has held positions in policy, natural gas forecasting and trading, profit and loss reporting and change management, and development services. She believes that as society advances, and new technologies are invented, transdisciplinary research is key in providing different perspectives to reach the next level. 

Jennifer Dooley–May, Ph.D.

Jennifer Dooley–May, Ph.D.

Specialist, Communications and Engagement
(Transdisciplinary Scholarship and Health and Life)

Jennifer Dooley-May is the Specialist, Communications & Engagement for Transdisciplinary Research and Scholarship, with the dual role of communications for the entire initiative and enabling engagement within the Health and Life area of focus. Jennifer brings a Ph.D. in Health Initiatives and Social Marketing from the University of Wollongong and nearly two decades of expertise in planning, communicating, implementing, and measuring the impact of social and health innovations.