Friday, February 22, 2008

Partnerships, Progress, and Endless Possibilities

I remember taking a night train from Warsaw to Prague in the spring of 1992. Around two in the morning, a security officer dressed in a drab trench coat and tall, lace up boots, flung open the door to our sleep cabin, and yelled words at me that I didn't understand. After a few jarring moments, I realized, with the help of the Australian traveller sitting next to me, that the officer wanted to see my eurorail pass. Unfortunately, I had been issued a pass with an older version of the eurorail map displayed on the front. The Czech Republic wasn't included as one of the pre-paid areas of travel.

With no money on me, I had sudden visions of being thrown off the train in the middle of nowhere, forced to freeze my ass off in the dark of night. I exchanged some helpless looks, hoping the guard would have pity on me. No such luck......My new Australian friend, sensing panic in my blank look, started pointing to my ticket and began piecing together some fragmented German, indicating that my eurorail map was old. "Dies ist alt, Dies ist Alt," she sputtered. I started doing the same, and after a few seconds, (seemed like hours), the guard broke into a pinched smile, but clearly understood the problem. He made an about-face turn, slammed the door, and marched off.

Communication is a tricky business. There is tremendous value in transdisciplinary collaboration as as the key to effecting ecological health solutions, but the burning question is how to bridge the communication gap that exists between specializations as well as between field professionals and the general public. Ever the diplomat, I'm eager to facilitate the formation of collaborative partnerships, (ecovet international is one example), but I have come up against many isolated thinkers, who limit themselves to the specifics of their academic discipline instead of seeing the potential in partnering with others to uncover revolutionary, "big picture" break throughs.

Fortunately, globalization is causing a shift in this sort of conventional isolation. Today, while surfing through the latest articles on the environmental News Network, I came across a great example of the possiblities that can result when people think outside the box and build on the skills of eachother, without being limited by language barriers that exist between disciplines.

Check this out........New Map of Hot Spot Disease Emergence