Asking Different Questions

Providing students with the tools they need to produce more inclusive, accurate, and ultimately impactful research results

October 2022

Asking Different Questions, a new graduate student training program developed at the University of California, Davis, is aimed at giving early career researchers a more solid foundation to do cross-sectoral research, by providing them with the intellectual tools they need to produce more inclusive, accurate, and ultimately impactful research results.

The program was inspired by decades of research that revealed how historical precedents, cultural norms, and systems of power continue to bias scientific research and technological innovation. Funded by a National Science Foundation Innovations in Graduate Education (IGE) award, Asking Different Questions tackles an important challenge facing universities, namely that research across science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields takes place within a larger societal context that is often not reflected in the research questions that are explored. The program was developed to provide students with the training needed to recognize and address the real-world complexities within their research context.

Highly Integrative Basic and Responsive (HIBAR) research projects are co-led by people in academia and society who work in an equitable partnership and integrate the core goals of seeking new knowledge and addressing a problem in society. Shared goals and shared decision-making are essential components of these partnerships, and the diverse perspectives that partners bring to the project mean that, together, they make wiser decisions about the direction, participants, and activities within the project – from the start and throughout.

The Asking Different Questions curriculum equips researchers with skills needed to build trusted cross-sectoral partnerships, and the HIBAR Research Alliance is delighted to showcase the program as part of our 2022-2023 webinar series.

Key Takeaway Messages

  • Substantive and lasting change requires changing the overall system and culture.
  • It is vital for universities to make space for graduate students to pursue HIBAR research.
  • Universities, can, and should, support graduate students as change leaders.
  • Be more flexible about what defines an academic discipline.
  • Make space for insights from PhD committee members from outside the discipline.

Watch the full webinar recording and a short video with key takeaway messages below. 

Read the key takeaway messages from all of our webinars here.


Dr. Sarah Rebolloso McCullough
Associate Director
Feminist Research Institute
University of California, Davis


Dr. Sarah Rebolloso McCullough, Associate Director of the Feminist Research Institute at the University of California, Davis, described how the Asking Different Questions program creates meaningful and respectful dialogue across boundaries that typically divide—between universities and communities, activists and researchers, scientists and humanists, workers and policymakers.


Watch the full webinar recording

Watch key excerpts from the webinar