collaborations of consequence

How to create your own ideation workshop

Institutions, funders, and PIs are looking for models of successful inter-, multi- and trans-disciplinary workshops, conferences, and funding programs. More recently, this is called "Convergence Research", especially at the National Science Foundation. The National Academies Keck Futures Initiative's (NAKFI) developed a robust, flexible approach to gathering and providing grants to foster collaborative, boundary-spanning research. The book, Collaborations of Consequence, which Anne co-authored, was released in 2018 and has been downloaded over 1,800 times.

In 2003, NAKFI was a $40 million idea before anyone knew whether it would work or how. Now, NAKFI's longevity, diversity of topics, and documented success, make the program a source of inspiration and insight on how to foster new team science and convergence research projects. NAKFI alumni have used their experience to create large and small conferences and the model has been used to build new interdisciplinary research communities and programs.

Not everyone can (or needs to!) work with an expert. This page will point you to resources to help you get started using this model. All of the content here is freely available online.

Anne's NSF growing convergence research webinar

Beyond "Science As Usual": Perspectives on Creating
Convergence Research Pathways

This talk covers much of the book’s content in about 40 minutes. Hear Anne give a behind-the-scenes look at the design and experience of a NAKFI conference. Find out how to bring other knowledge and tools into your gathering and explore suggestions for how investigators, funders, universities, and others might adapt this model.

What we're asked about most

There was a lot to cover about NAKFI after 15 years!  These links will take you directly to the chapters containing the information we’re asked about most by people wanting to apply the model in their own contexts. 

Praise for Collaborations of Consequence

“I have been working with this book lately, identifying its insights for inter- and trans-disciplinary work.  It works on two levels: as a comprehensive accounting for the Futures Initiative and as a collection of insignts for broad external audience”

julie thompson klein, phd

Professor of Humanities Emerita in Department of English at Wayne State University (USA) and International Research Affiliate of the Transdisciplinarity Lab in the Department of Environmental Systems Science at ETH Zurich (Switzerland)

(full list on page 82 of the book)


Developing a robust, adaptable model


alumni across disciplines, sectors & professions




gENERATED in follow-on funding to continue nakfi-sponsored worK

Brief NAKFI history

The National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI) was a $40 million, 15-year program of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Medicine, with funding from the W. M. Keck Foundation that operated from 2003-2019. The program spanned the three Academies, with members of all three Academies serving as conference chairs and committee members. NAKFI developed a robust “convene and seed” approach to fostering new interdisciplinary collaboration. NAKFI’s conference model was cited in the National Research Council’s 2014 report on Convergence as a successful example of “catalyzing the formation of research teams that start new avenues of investigation.”

Robust + Relevant Model

Built into the program’s design was a commitment to “an evolving model” and ongoing program evaluation with long-term internal staff. The core of the program was an annual team-based conference where participants worked together in small groups on compelling problems. The topic changed every year. Afterward, NAKFI supported new collaborations through $1 million each year in seed grants. The evaluation used a variety of methods and tracked conference attendees and seed grantees for several years.



NAKFI Publications + Conference Summaries

There was remarkable diversity in the scientific topics covered during NAKFI’s existence. Summaries of  NAKFI conference held from 2003 to 2016 are available for free download from National Academies Press.  Collaborations of Consequence, the definitive resource about the program, is also available there. 

DISCLAIMER: The content provided here does not imply endorsement of any kind. The content is solely the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the W. M. Keck Foundation or The National Academies.