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CoSearch: A Growing Multidisciplinary Event


Across the U.S. and the world, research-based multidisciplinary projects have been a key driver for innovation. Contributing to this trend, Dr. Michael Burns and Dr. Marian Houser, two faculty members in the Department of Communication Studies, created CoSearch Weekend. CoSearch is a two-day intensive retreat in mid-September, where interdisciplinary teams of researchers and creative minds across Texas State collaborate on research plans to solve real-world issues.

In Spring 2015, Dr. Burns conceptualized CoSearch as taking the collaborative and creative model of a startup and applying it to the academic research process. After consulting with friends in Fargo, North Dakota, who were well-versed in the startup community, Dr. Burns reached out to his colleague Dr. Houser to think through how a startup model could be translated to the research process. They agreed that many of the world’s problems could be solved by universities but that academics needed a vehicle to jump-start the interdisciplinary process and a creative environment to do it in.

To realize that environment, they would turn the research process into a research experience, allowing creative-minded faculty and researchers to explore ideas together in an intense, fun, competitive, and time-scarce space. With financial backing from external sources such as the Austin PR agency Hahn Public Communications and internal sources such as the College of Fine Arts and Communication, the inaugural CoSearch weekend was successfully held in Fall 2015.

CoSearch is also drawing the attention of several U.S. and international academic institutions. After sending a representative to Texas State to observe the fourth annual CoSearch Weekend in September 2018, North Dakota State University plans to hold two CoSearch Weekend events on their campus. The first will be a targeted event on the future of farming, and the second will be a university-wide event like ours. Additionally, Ohio State University contacted the CoSearch team to learn more about the program. Dr. Burns will be visiting 150 top Ohio State administrators in September to discuss how interdisciplinary research impacts the community and how CoSearch can help with such an initiative. The CoSearch team has also been invited to work with the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, to help create an international research partnership using the CoSearch process.

The CoSearch Team is optimistic that their process will continue to garner interest among other academic and innovative institutions. In the meantime, CoSearch Texas State will continue to facilitate research-based solutions to real world issues. Solutions provided by past CoSearch teams include improving programs to support students transitioning from foster care into college, creating a Happy Healthy Toolkit to ensure the overall wellness of children and adults, and increasing access to healthcare through a collaborative university and community Telehealth program. These are just a few of the solutions evolving from multidisciplinary teams formed at CoSearch. Now entering its fifth year, CoSearch is primed to help more Texas State faculty address real problems with new and innovative solutions through research.

The fifth annual CoSearch Texas State weekend event will take place September 13-14, 2019. Registration is now open for all Texas State faculty. Want to know more about this innovative event? Check out the CoSearch Website. Ready to collaborate? Register for CoSearch Weekend here.


by Matthew Winn

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