Because of the complexity of the addictions crisis, the Steering Committee recognized the benefit of encouraging faculty members to develop multidisciplinary projects, potentially involving both colleagues from different IU schools and campuses, and community partners. To assist faculty members in developing project proposals, the Steering Committee developed a multi-faceted process for proposal development with multiple points of entry and paths to submission of full project proposals. The office of the Vice President for Research arranged for a series of events designed to help faculty members create interdisciplinary teams working on novel, transformational responses to the addictions crisis. Early proposal development events included a number of informational jumpstart conversations held on the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses with the option of video and audio participation from regional campuses. These brown-bag lunches and coffee talks provided opportunities to learn about the framework and goals of IU’s strategy to address the addictions crisis and to begin exploring ways that different kinds of expertise could contribute to the work the university would undertake. These talks provided on-ramping for two Scoping Sessions, which were held on the Indianapolis and Bloomington campuses on March 1st and 2nd. More than 130 faculty members, researchers, and community partners came together to reframe our understanding of the addictions crisis and begin to imagine new strategies for addressing the problems we face.
While many faculty members built on their own expertise and the insights of the Scoping Sessions to develop proposals, an additional opportunity to develop interdisciplinary proposals was an Ideas Lab held in May, 2018. Used by NSF and NIH to promote the development of novel, interdisciplinary research proposals, these intensive, residential workshops bring together participants from diverse disciplines, people who are committed to an open-minded, flexible approach to finding new solutions to seemingly intractable problems – such as the addictions crisis.(See The Ideas Lab Concept and Cracking the Olfactory Code for descriptions of NSF-sponsored Ideas Labs.) IU’s Ideas Lab, a three day workshop, gathered 31 faculty and community members to work together in teams to create novel, multidisciplinary proposals designed to tackle specific elements of the addictions crisis. Several teams formed there submitted full Phase 2 proposals for funding, while others are working on strengthening their partnerships and pursuing funding from external sources.