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Towards Convergence: How to Do Transdisciplinary Environmental Health Disparities Research


Increasingly, funders (i.e., national, public funders, such as the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation in the U.S.) and scholars agree that single disciplines are ill equipped to study the pressing social, health, and environmental problems we face alone, particularly environmental exposures, increasing health disparities, and climate change. To better understand these pressing social problems, funders and scholars have advocated for transdisciplinary approaches in order to harness the analytical power of diverse and multiple disciplines to tackle these problems and improve our understanding. However, few studies look into how to conduct such research. To this end, this article provides a review of transdisciplinary science, particularly as it relates to environmental research and public health. To further the field, this article provides in-depth information on how to conduct transdisciplinary research. Using the case of a transdisciplinary, community-based, participatory action, environmental health disparities study in California's Central Valley provides an in-depth look at how to do transdisciplinary research. Working with researchers from the fields of social sciences, public health, biological engineering, and land, air, and water resources, this study aims to answer community residents' questions related to the health disparities they face due to environmental exposure. Through this case study, I articulate not only the logistics of how to conduct transdisciplinary research but also the logics. The implications for transdisciplinary methodologies in health disparity research are further discussed, particularly in the context of team science and convergence science.

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