Memoirs of Wicked Problems

Well, I suppose now is the time to reflect on the past four weeks of Wicked Problems. If I’m being perfectly honest, this was an entirely different experience from what I expected. Because I already considered myself educated on matters of the environment, the economy and sustainability in general, I didn’t expect a month-long class to challenge me much, and I didn’t expect to come across anything of a real complexity that might expand my general awareness. I’m pleased to say I was wrong. If I can take away one thing in particular from this class, it’s that I see with more clarity the interconnectedness of a variety of issues that I once considered to be largely independent, and whose context I failed to consider. I’ve also gained a greater appreciation for perspectives that are different from mine; this class was heavy in its debate format, and having open discussions with my classmates demonstrated to me that there is always more than one correct perspective on something, and that just because I disagree with someone doesn’t make their input not valuable.

My attitude towards the application of sustainable practices hasn’t changed, necessarily. While I do have a greater understanding of conflicting viewpoints, I still maintain that the key to sustainability is technology and innovation. In my opinion, humanity has just reached a level of finesse and sophistication to our technology that we can increasingly gear it to suit our needs with minimal negative impacts, and we’ve only just scratched the surface of our capacity for innovation. I disagree with those who would have our society regressing as the only path to sustainability that they find viable.

One interesting change I’ve noted is that my thinking towards my goals has acquired a new dimension. Now, when I consider the design work I would like to do in the future, I find myself planning how I might build sustainability into my store, my manufacturing, my sourcing, and I find myself excited to be a part of painting a friendlier future for the apparel industry. This, to me, is the most valuable thing I’ve gained from this course.

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