This is my first semester at OSU and my first semester attending a four-year university. I transferred from Tulsa Community College so this has been a big change for me. This semester I have heard of so many new terms and classes that I never knew existed. Wicked Problems is one of those classes. I have never heard of any problem referred to as “wicked”. In all honesty, I rarely hear anyone use that word in everyday conversation. My advisor was vague in his description of the class, so I was still unsure of what I was going into. On the first day, I learned that a wicked problem is an often difficult to solve and complex issue. Wicked problems are often larger scale social and environmental issues. Tame problems are the opposite. Tame problems are average in comparison and can be solved with a specific solution. The main differences between wicked and tame problems are the complexity and probability of it being solved in a traditional, scientific manner. If something seems like it is truly impossible to resolve, then chances are it is considered to be a wicked problem.
There are six characteristics that make up a wicked problem. I thought these characteristics sounded very similar to the definition. They focus on how seemingly unsolvable such a problem can be. Other characteristics are the possibility of a solution leading to another issue, urgency, and undefinable problems. Since wicked problems focus on social and environmental issues, sustainability is something that gets brought up quite often. Sustainability is the ability to meet current needs while being mindful of future generations. The idea is to not compromise the needs and well-being of our future generations. Before this class, I always thought of sustainability as finding more environmentally friendly ways to do things but I never considered how important it is to think about future generations as well.
As I was reading Easter Island, the entire time I was thinking about how dated the reading material seemed until I got to the last paragraph. That is when I saw how it tied into present day and realized how relevant it actually is. I was kind of sad after reading the article. The people of Easter Island were so happy and wrapped up in their own consumption that they didn’t take the time to stop and think about what they were doing. This is an unfortunately relevant warning to our society today. People have been taking and taking from the earth endlessly without giving anything back and eventually it will catch up to us. By that time, we will be regretful and there will be nothing left to do about it. The best action is the preventative one. This is exactly what the interviewees in the 11thHour were trying to warn us of. That documentary was made in 2007 and yet we’re still worried about the same issues.
In class, we watched a TED talk by Andrew Dent about “thrift”. I found it really interesting because when I think of thrifting, I think about going to Goodwill or Salvation Army to look for “trendy” clothes and furniture pieces but when Andrew speaks about this subject, he is talking about it on a larger scale. He suggests thrifting as a means to rebuild and I think that’s a great idea if that is possible to do. The reason why we don’t “thrift” buildings now is because we like to do things the easy, efficient way but maybe we should slow down a bit and be more mindful. The idea of using parts of a preexisting building makes so much sense. Why make new materials if you already have materials that can be used?
During the wildest thing assignment, I noticed that other groups had written down similar things to what my group wrote. This tells me that we have a common goal in mind and we can work together towards that goal. But as we discussed in class, we need to change the paradigm first. Our self-narrative is only a piece of the solution. We have to look at the bigger picture. With that being said, I checked my carbon footprint and I produce 23 tons of CO2 yearly which is 34% better than average. This isn’t very shocking to me as I try to be mindful but I still slip up and find it difficult to be a completely resourceful person that practices the “zero waste” mentality.