Toolbox Dialogue Initiative Awarded Prize for Excellence and NSF Grant


Michigan State University’s Toolbox Dialogue Initiative (TDI), led by Michael O’Rourke, Interim Director of the MSU Center for Interdisciplinarity (C4I), and Stephanie Vasko, Managing Director of C4I, has been named the winner of the 2018 APA/PDC Prize for Excellence and Innovation in Philosophy Programs. It also recently learned it will receive a $71,900 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to hold a workshop at NSF in Washington, D.C. 

The Prize for Excellence and Innovation in Philosophy Programs, jointly sponsored by the American Philosophical Association (APA) and the Philosophy Documentation Center (PDC), recognizes philosophy departments, research centers, institutes, societies, publishers, and other organizations that risk undertaking new initiatives in philosophy, and do so with excellence and success. The award honors the success of these programs so they may inspire and influence others to follow their lead.

“This award is a reflection of the quality of the TDI team members, both as researchers and as people,” said O’Rourke, TDI Director. “TDI is an interdisciplinary research and outreach group involving humanists and scientists who are excited about the process of complex, collaborative research and who are interested in taking chances and pursuing new opportunities as they arise. It’s a great group of people, and I’m honored and proud to be associated with them.”

This award is a reflection of the quality of the TDI team members, both as researchers and as people.

Dr. Michael O'rourke

TDI provides a philosophical, yet practical, enhancement to cross-disciplinary, collaborative science. This enhancement comes primarily in the form of a dialogue-based “Toolbox workshop,” and it is intended for interdisciplinary and interprofessional teams of collaborators. 

“The award highlights the fact that we have remained connected to the discipline of philosophy, even as we have moved out in a variety of interdisciplinary directions,” O’Rourke said. “Philosophical concepts and methods are a crucial input into the Toolbox process, and this award acknowledges the value that philosophical work can have for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary efforts.” 

The recent NSF grant received by TDI will be used to host a dialogue-based workshop at NSF in the national’s capital.

 “The ability to communicate and collaborate is key to effective research teams and networks,” O’Rourke said. “The Toolbox Dialogue Initiative will focus on enhancing this ability through a dialogue-based workshop to be held in Washington, D.C., for newly funded members of international network-to-network collaborations as part of an NSF awardee meeting.”

We’re working with artificial intelligence and machine learning in new ways that will add to the research and services of TDI and C4I, as well as push boundaries of team science research.

Dr. Stephanie Vasko

The workshop builds on more than a decade of work by TDI to design and deliver evidence-based facilitated discussions that increase the communicative and collaborative capacity of cross-disciplinary teams. The primary goal of the workshop is to provide members of international network-to-network collaborations the opportunity to examine beliefs and values that inform their contributions as collaborators, researchers, and networks members. 

“I’m excited about showcasing and expanding our newer developments within TDI and C4I,” Vasko said. “We’re working with artificial intelligence and machine learning in new ways that will add to the research and services of TDI and C4I, as well as push boundaries of team science research.” 

The workshop is expected to be held in the fall of 2019. The Prize for Excellence and Innovation in Philosophy Programs will be presented at the 2019 Eastern Division meeting in New York City.