Cristina Banks

Director's Message

Here we are months into the New Year, and we are no farther to finding answers to many questions that may change how we live and work. My personal favorites: What is the best way to do hybrid work?  Should real estate shrink to fit office space utilization? How can employers strengthen employee commitment to their organization and increase work engagement? What constitutes “healthy work,” and what will make this change achievable?  What is the future of work? What do we want the future of work and work-life to be?  And a scary one: Will everything just “snap back in place” like it was pre-pandemic now that we are past the COVID crisis?   

All of us know we need to make progress finding answers to these questions.  We need to so we can make plans, adjust our approach to work to make it more in line with our needs, and create a life-work balance that gives us the best chance of thriving physically, mentally, and productively in the time we devote to work.

Perhaps the reason we don’t have answers yet to these questions is because these are big questions that involve multiple intersecting elements that aren’t easily coordinated, reconciled, aligned, and mutually reinforcing. Much of the knowledge base applicable to these questions is held in separate silos, making it difficult to gain knowledge outside the boundaries of one’s orientation. Those who create knowledge tend to keep their knowledge within their kind. Transdisciplinary (interdisciplinary) knowledge sharing is rare and for good reason—it is hard to get an audience interested outside of one’s field.  It is also hard to do interdisciplinary work because orientations and perspectives can be very different and unfamiliar. Nonetheless, we must take on these questions using an interdisciplinary approach, one that examines questions from multiple vantage points simultaneously, in order to see the problem clearly. When we take this approach, we learn quickly the importance of partnering with others outside our expertise.  Working together and sharing knowledge across disciplines can enable new, integrated solutions to emerge, ones of sufficient weight to change the course.

This is the purpose of this Center: to promote interdisciplinary research and knowledge exchange in order to address health, safety, and well-being problems more comprehensively and to generate innovative solutions made possible by stepping out of our silos. 

Join the movement!