Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Pragmatism in a Wicked World


Liberal Studies Department


Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Date Range





Wicked problems scholarship today concretizes the problems of foundationalism. The burgeoning body of literature on wicked problems today focuses most on issues of sustainability, but the application of this literature is far reaching. Such problems are not amenable to easy or final solutions; instead they are defined by copious amounts of disagreement, conflicting objectives, as well as high levels of uncertainty (ie. public policy problems). They are dynamically complex and ill-structured. Calls to address such problems are supported by a skepticism of neutrality, of experts proffering the final word, and of any claim that facts and values can be separated. In confronting wicked problems we see that our facts are instead always incomplete, always capable of multiple interpretations. Thus, calls to address such problems solidify the need for both the pragmatic method and for deliberative democracy.

Conference Name

'Making it Work: US Thought and Culture Between Practice and Paralysis'

Conference Location

Ann Arbor, MI

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