Complex societal challenges call for solutions that require innovative thinking and new ways of problem-solving that creatively combine knowledge from multiple disciplines. It is imperative that applied economists engage in interdisciplinary research and apply systems thinking and analytical approaches to analyzing trade-offs and behavioral drivers of human choices to design strategies to achieve societal goals. Agricultural and applied economics have a foundation in interdisciplinary research, real-world problem solving and engagement with stakeholders, but face increasing pressures for specialization. This address discusses strategies for conducting interdisciplinary research that rely on T-shaped research skills, team science and aggregating expertise from different disciplines to co-develop solutions to challenging societal problems. It provides some examples of ground-breaking research that has emerged in applied economics due to the collaborations with and insights provided by scholars from other disciplines. The paper concludes with a discussion of the institutional and discipline-related challenges to conducting interdisciplinary research and a call to the profession to foster, recognize and value interdisciplinary research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-492
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Journal of Agricultural Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • citations
  • creativity
  • disciplinary
  • interdisciplinary
  • societal challenges
  • team science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics


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