Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Beyond interdisciplinary pedagogy: participatory action efforts to address local wicked problems


Liberal Studies Department


Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Date Range



Arts and Humanities


In contrast to static, disciplinary problems, many of the issues we face in the world today can be characterized as wicked, as dynamically complex, interdependent, high stakes issues with no simple or obvious definition (let alone any simple or obvious solution). These wicked problems confront us with high levels of uncertainty in situations where both action and inaction carry serious, long-term consequences. Current top-down, siloed, and abstract pedagogical strategies do not provide students with the tools for collaboratively managing such problems. How can we prepare students to tackle large-scale wicked problems within interdisciplinary courses? What pedagogical methods can be used to address interdependent, high-stakes systemic problems? This presentation details one set of answers from both a student and instructor perspective by discussing the design and outcomes of Wicked Problems of Sustainability: an interdisciplinary, community-engaged, upper-division undergraduate course at Grand Valley State University. The inherent challenges of messy inquiry, participatory research, and community engagement will be detailed along with recommendations for meliorating these challenges and thus better preparing students to collaboratively tackle wicked problems within their own communities.

Conference Name

Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters

Conference Location

Berrien Springs, MI

This document is currently not available here.