Having earned a B.S. in engineering, an M.S. in business administration, and a Ph.D. in public administration, Nicholas Zingale has been involved in transdisciplinary research for most of his career. A collaborator in the Human Fusions Institute, the Cleveland State University professor said this particular collaboration will allow him to reach more milestones than any other project he’s done before.
Zingale has known HFI Director Dustin Tyler since he spent 2019 as a visiting professor at Case Western Reserve University. He has been instrumental in creating the new Graduate Certificate in Transdisciplinary and Society 5.0 at his home institute. Cleveland State students will be required to take five courses to earn this certificate, and Zingale and Tyler hope that CWRU students can take the courses in the future. The first course required for the certificate, “Empathy, Technology and Disabilities,” is being taught by Eric Schearer to Cleveland State students this semester, and Zingale will start offering his course, Transdisciplinary Perspectives, in Fall 2024.
Claire Foley, a Cleveland State student conducting HFI-related research, is one of the Cleveland State students who has begun her studies toward the Society 5.0 Graduate Certificate. “We've been learning and practicing empathy skills, meeting people with disabilities, and learning about assistive technology,” said Foley. “We've also each been paired with a person with a disability. These aim to propose a technological/engineering/social/other solution to a disability-related issue in their lives by the end of the semester.”
In addition to his involvement with creating the new certificate, Zingale spoke about his transdisciplinary research experience at the Human-Machine Systems 2023 Summit, held Sept. 21-22 at Cleveland State as part of the annual American Society of Biomechanics conference. His presentation, “Educational Material,” focused on how he works transdisciplinary studies into his curriculum. He is always looking for ideas to train the next generation of researchers in a transdisciplinary way.
One of the keynote speakers, Michele Grimm of University of Albany, focused on the importance of convergence in research, taking multiple perspectives and knowledge domains to address complex research problems, and building research partnerships outside of academia.
The conference drew biomechanical engineers, civil engineers, urbanists and government employees from Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland.
“I was truly inspired by the presentations and discussions that underscored the power of collaboration in driving transformative research,” said Foley of the presentations. “It became evident that in transdisciplinary research, the boundaries of what we can achieve are expanded when we work together, bringing diverse perspectives and expertise to the table. In elevating the expertise of people with lived experience with disabilities, the Summit pushed the boundaries of what we can know and paved the way for innovative solutions in the field, in the vein of the work of the Human Fusions Institute.”