Wicked Science

Wicked problems defy easy resolution and are plagued by disagreements over their fundamental nature and cause (Credit: image by Via Sannevanderbeek)

A recent article I published with colleagues at Ohio State argues that to effectively tackle the so-called “wicked problems” facing humanity – from climate change to growing social inequality – a new kind of science is needed. Highlighting COVID-19 as an example of a pressing wicked problem, we show how such problems are characterized by fundamental disagreements regarding their nature and cause. To tackle such thorny problems, we advocate for what we call “wicked science” –– a model of scientific training that 1) cultivates disciplinary expertise and transdisciplinary skills, 2) encourages purpose-driven commitment to problems that defy easy resolution, and 3) requires researchers and other collaborators to work across ideological and epistemological differences. We also described what a graduate program in Wicked Science would look like, what it would achieve, and why it matters to researchers and the communities where they work. You can read the article, which is open access, here.

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