Here are some comments from previous Andina workshops:

Conguillio National Park

The organisers succeeded in creating an atmosphere that encouraged critical debate of important and controversial topics while making sure that everyone, regardless of seniority or gender, had the opportunity to contribute and engage. The organisers created a rare beast: a safe and creative space for robust academic debate.” Professor Yvonne Buckley, Trinity College, Dublin, Andina II

THANK YOU for having facilitated such a wonderful experience and group; it definitely changed the course of my career in a positive way. The workshop was a pivotal point in my career. Up until then, I had been feeling so isolated in my research and hadn’t seen what real collaboration and community could look like; I found that in our workshop.” Dr Emily Moberg, (Director, Scope 3 Carbon Measurement & Mitigation, WWF-US), Andina IV”

I only knew one person at the first meeting: I was an early career scientist studying molecular evolution and population genetics of adaptation in crops, wild relatives, and weeds. The provocative discussions and creative forums at the meeting had a major impact on my subsequent research program. I also gained an expanded network that included researchers from different disciplines and greatly improved how I communicate. I was then given the chance to take on a leadership role, being asked to chair the program committee for the next meeting.” Dr Amy Lawton-Rauh, Clemson University, Andina I and II

I attended the first ANDINA workshop, and found it to be one of the most thought provoking and productive workshops that I’ve had the privilege to attend”. Dr. Bruce Webber, School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia. Andina I and IV
Feedback from participants at the Andina III workshop (Alberta, June 2016).  All attendees were asked to reflect on the week.  Each paragraph is an extract from a different participant.  No negative comments have been omitted. 

” The methods employed in the workshop to get people to come up with innovative thoughts, challenge each other, and formulate consensus ideas (e.g. World Café, trust building exercises…) were novel and exciting to me. I can see myself taking elements from these for various aspects of lab management, campus-visioning exercises, grant proposal brainstorming, and various other professional activities. As an evolutionary geneticist I rarely interact with researchers involved with the more practical side of weed control. By being in this workshop I have gained easy access to a pool of such people.”

“Sometimes in workshops there are times when I ask myself why am I here? Is this really the best use of my time? That never happened in this workshop. Whether it was meeting new people socially and talking shit, or talking over science ideas, or formally forming working groups and getting things done, this always felt like this workshop was best thing I could be doing right now. As an early career researcher the networks I started to build here feel very useful. It was great meeting, talking, working with people that I would have otherwise never meet (or even known they existed). The walks and social sessions were an important part of that, and probably allowed the work parts to happen as fast as they did. The setting was great and I was very happy there was a friendly dog.”

“I found the workshop to be refreshingly engaging and encouraging of interpersonal and interdisciplinary interaction and productivity. The process of creating the opportunity and spaces for this to occur was one of the key lessons learned.”

“I was honoured to have the opportunity to spend a week with some of the top weed scientists from across four continents. As likely the least academically experienced person in the room, I cannot overstate how welcome I felt, and how I felt my opinion was valued and fairly evaluated when given.  AndinA has opened my eyes to a whole new body of literature, knowledge and experience readily available to bring value and validity to agricultural research issues.  “

“The nature of the meeting allowed a much more profound set of interactions to occur than any I have ever experienced at a traditional weed science meeting. Strengthened my conviction towards collaboration.”

“I was excited to interact with experts in the social sciences to hopefully provide a new perspective to the way I think about, talk about, and address weed problems.  Bringing disciplines together can work, even when one of the groups was clearly arriving skeptical.”

“Learned more about people & relationships; learned new work-shopping techniques; gained really good friends and consolidated existing ones; massaged my ego/confidence.  Gained collaborators on future research projects. “

“This was a great workshop.  This workshop created an “ethical space” where privilege of knowledge did not exist. this is also the way to approach and include aboriginal groups – create that ethical space. loved it overall – great people, good venue, innovative process and good steps forward for research!!”

“I am now aware of a significant gap in my knowledge that is limiting my effectiveness.”

“Man I love coming to these meetings – they meet so many aspects of who I think I am and my mission in life!  They meet my social needs to expand my network and to learn from great intellects.  boosting my knowledge width and depth and to keep expanding my social/institutional/scientific networks in the broad natural resource management field in which I operate.  The workshops introduce me to a new body of scientific knowledge and literature – it makes me read widely. It helps sometimes with other facilitation, and evaluation projects plus I gain some more intimate knowledge of scientists, their institutions and their norms. Plus I have fun in a great landscape and as a geomorphologist the exposure to new and scientifically interesting landscapes is indeed a motivation for me.”

“I now feel far more open to working with others in a way that might substantively involve me letting go of my ‘stuff’ to a greater extent that I was at the beginning.”
Overall, I have learned a great deal from this workshop and feel that it has sparked new ideas that I will continue to think about as I finish my PhD and move into the next phases of my career. It was fascinating to engage with an environmental problem from so many different angles. Overall, I felt that the workshop provided me with motivation to continue to seek out collaborations with researchers from diverse disciplines. I now think I will put more thought into where and how I am publishing and disseminating my research to try and make the greatest impact.  My discussions at the workshop also helped me more deeply understand several environmental challenges I knew very little about before the workshop.”

“I am really pleased with the connections I made and also the progress with manuscript preparations. As an early-career researcher, both the connections and publications will make a significant impact on my professional development. The meeting was well planned and organized which helped the days go smoothly. I do not really see any major shortfalls.  However, I guess this workshop provided me with a unique insight into other issues where I can learn from. The manuscript exercise really brought us together and made the link between different weed management systems and social sciences. I believe that the manuscript writing process will introduce me to key social science literature and build my knowledge in this area. I would like to continue to interact with scientists in other relevant disciplines and involve them in weed management problem solving.”

“A big eye opener for me was how much material there is in other disciplines on issues that I’ve been concerned with in weed science (i.e. ways to communicate).  This is important to me because ignorance of these things has limited my scope and impact as a scientist.  I’ve also learned that reaching out to colleagues from other countries and continents is not as hard once the initial contact has been made.  I am very much looking forward to continued collaboration with some of the scientists, particularly those who could be informal mentors for me or who work on very similar areas to me.”

“What I have appreciated most about this workshop is the opportunity to initiate conversations and, frankly, be pushed out of my comfort zone on topics that I don’t normally touch. While a feeling of discomfort may sound like a critique, I believe it is a necessary step to take in order to bridge the gaps across the various disciplines and diverse schools of thought. In the future, I would like to see even more team-building exercises among folks with very disparate backgrounds. I believe we touched on some of that here, but perhaps had lingering desires to connect but needed more time and more interaction.”

“The in-depth discussions generated by the informal atmosphere (well generated by the organizers), help internalize the ideas way beyond my expectations. As a researcher working in agriculture and striving to make his research as applicable as possible and hoping that at least some of the research product will help land-users, this was actually an important workshop.”

“I learned that my science concentric approach to research tends to carry over into my expectations of stakeholders. My personal mission has been to put more science into land management decision making. I still believe in the mission but I learned that science may not always be the complete answer to land management decisions and thus my expectations may change largely as a result of this workshop!”

“My understanding has improved immensely and I can see the benefits of working together (all warm and fuzzy). I now have a few contacts in this discipline that I may be able to work with or contact in the future.”

“This is very important to me as I have always valued working with other disciplines (rather than silos) but I have been at odds on how to achieve this. This workshop has given me a few insights.  I would have liked a session (within this workshop) where we used one of the case studies, identified stakeholders and work-shopped how each of us could contribute to it (holistic approach). This might have given me a less abstract perspective on how it could work (for me) in the future.”

“While I still see this as a major systemic problem, attending Andina has given me hope that there are a good number of weed researchers who are able to navigate the system to do more in weed science than publish papers few people read. Meeting social scientists at Andina has given me a better insight into how this discipline can help improve outcomes in weed research and extension. I am now involved in helping to develop a social science-based paper! The participants have been excellent and I have had great fun as well as making many new valuable contacts. Andina is a valuable model and should continue. “

“My frustration before the workshop was that different groups do not speak to each other (in a very literal sense) – this workshop certainly overcame that issue.  Physically bringing people from different fields together showed me how little engagement natural scientists have with social sciences, despite an obvious desire and self-diagnosed need to engage with it. The frustration that came through from some of the natural scientists was palpable. This must have been building from somewhere, yet had never catalysed any sort of attempt to ‘de-silo’ and bring social science theory into their work.”

“This workshop has given me an opportunity to interact with others in my own field that have a diversity of emphases and struggle with similar dilemmas. Additionally, I have gained perspectives from researchers who think a lot more about how people behave that will influence how I consider implementation in the future. I have also formed relationships with researchers from my own and other disciplines to allow future collaborations. This is important to me because I can see the limits of my science to address issues of weed control unless there’s a change in our capacity to encourage implementation. In the future, I hope better frameworks for considering social interactions will improve the impact of my weed control research.”