On Wednesday, March 22, Jepson School faculty members filter into the faculty lounge for the latest installment of a series of research seminars. The Jepson faculty research seminars create a formal structure in which faculty members can collaborate and leverage their distinct backgrounds in anthropology, economics, history, literature, philosophy, politics, psychology, and religion to enrich both their own scholarship and that of their colleagues.

“Our own research can be enhanced by new perspectives and other ways of creating knowledge demonstrated in our colleagues’ scholarly work,” says Dr. Crystal Hoyt, associate dean for academic affairs at the Jepson School.

The mood is jovial. It’s lunchtime, so the faculty members share food, tell jokes, and discuss work and their classes. After everyone gets seated, Hoyt gives some welcoming remarks before turning the discussion over to Dr. Kristin Bezio, associate professor of leadership studies, for a presentation on her current research project.

Bezio’s lecture investigates the links between playwrights and spies in Elizabethan England. During the presentation, Bezio uses social network maps to visualize these relationships. Bezio, whose disciplinary background is in literature, says that it was Hoyt who suggested social network mapping, a social science tool, to her.

After her presentation, Bezio opens the floor to questions from her colleagues, sparking a conversation about methods and theory. The discussion is collegial and informal, but also engaged and thoughtful as faculty pull from their own academic backgrounds.

The conversation highlights the Jepson School’s interdisciplinary foundation, which Hoyt calls “the heart of the Jepson School.”

Hoyt points out that collaboration and faculty research seminars at the Jepson School are nothing new, saying “One of the great opportunities afforded by the interdisciplinary nature of the Jepson School is the possibility of exciting scholarly collaborations across disciplines. Over the years, we have had a number of collaborative projects in the Jepson School.”

As an example, Hoyt describes working on a project with Dr. Terry Price that brought together their respective backgrounds in psychology and philosophy. But there are countless other examples of faculty collaboration; Jepson faculty members work together on co-authored papers, they teach linked courses, and they co-organize panels and presentations, to name a few.

Bezio’s presentation concludes the spring 2017 series of seminars, but Hoyt plans to continue the series next year. Both these seminars and more informal conversations enable faculty to capitalize on knowledge from different fields to explore leadership in new and groundbreaking ways and produce cutting-edge research.