The primary goal of this course is to develop a compassionate curiosity to the multiple ways one comes to understand a wicked problem. The most considerable way I have learned about wicked problems is intellectually. Understanding what exactly makes a problem wicked is where I started off. Before coming into this class, my background knowledge of wicked problems was very little. I was aware of most of the issues that we discussed in class to a certain extent, but I did not have a full understanding of the complexity that came with solving these issues. In other words, I did not understand that solving these issues completely was out of the question. Understanding this concept was the beginning to fully understanding the complexity of wicked problems. In this class we dig into some articles that discuss issues and half of the class reads one point of the view of the problem and the other the opposing side. Since I have been in this class, I have noticed changes in how I think about different views for problems. I notice that I consider all aspects of how issues could be viewed. I still have own personal opinions but I feel like I have a deeper understanding of why it is important to listen to the other side and try to understand what they are thinking. Some of the articles we read about wicked problems that the fashion industry and the built environment industry create, really shocked me. It was very shocking to me to hear about the extent of the damage that the building industry creates. A majority of energy expenditure is because of buildings. As someone who wants to go into the architecture career field, it was disheartening knowing the harmful effects that buildings have on the environment.
Diving into these wicked problems has had an influence on the way I think about ordinary things like that. I have gained curiosity in the products I consume and the everyday tasks I participate in. I question if what I am doing is sustainable and if the products I use were made in a sustainable way. I notice that I have strong feelings about our earth and environment around us. I notice that I care deeply about ensuring that our future children will still have a home on this earth. I want to make sure that I can help make a difference in making sure this happens. My curiosity brings me to question why doesn’t everyone in this class care as deeply about these environmental concerns as I do? Does the future we are headed towards not scare them? Is it selfishness? I am curious as to how I can change the mindset of not only my peers who do not have an interest in bettering our environment, but how can we change the mindset of everyone in our culture?
After gaining a good understanding of wicked problems and the never-ending loop of problems they create, another part of understanding came with this: the emotional backlash. Knowing that these problems are getting worse and there is nothing being actively done quickly enough in order to solve them, creates feelings of anxiety. I personally, feel very scared for my future and especially the future of our future children who will live even longer through the destruction that humans have caused. I worry that I will not have the opportunity to travel the world due to natural disasters that have been caused by global warming. It is very scary to know that if we do not make change now, the future of humanity will be doomed. In order to combat these anxious feelings, we talked about mindfulness. Mindfulness can be a helpful tool when discussing something as mind boggling as wicked problems, and can even be helpful in just your everyday life. Being mindful when thinking about wicked problems has helped me feel less anxiety. When I sit back and observe how I feel when I think about the never-ending problems, I realize that there is not anything I can single handedly do. The only thing that I can do is my part in making sustainable changes, and try my best to educate those around me to do so as well.
Throughout this course, I have developed humble and compassionate responses to wicked problems. Wicked problems are anxiety inducing due to the fact that there is no right solution to them. Throughout this class, I have learned how to respond to them in a more constructive way so that the chance of any positive changes will result from that. I think a really important part of understanding a wicked problem, is understanding that there is no right solution and any possible solution that can be done to help solve the problem will not be easy to do. Wicked problems are wicked for a reason, and that is because they are so complex. After keeping this in mind, the response to wicked problems becomes more approachable. A good example of when I have had a compassionate response to wicked problems is when I read the article “Green Construction Costs and Benefits: Is National Regulation Warranted?” by Leigh K. Fletcher. This article discusses the environmental impact that the built environment and its industry leaves on our planet. Manufacturing such materials results in greenhouse gases, carbon emissions, and a loss of our natural resources. Even after construction, buildings are still wreaking havoc on the environment just because they require so much energy to be powered. Buildings are obviously something that our society can and will not live without. It is unrealistic to just not build anymore structures from this point on, especially since the population rate is still growing and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. With this being said, we can not prevent buildings from being built, so the damage that is done by them will continue to be a wicked problem. I had to develop a compassionate response to this problem because architecture is the career field, I aspire to be in. The only way to fix this problem would be to not build anymore buildings at all, but obviously that is just not possible. However, there are solutions to making the problem better than before. Instead of feeling discouraged at the fact that there is nothing I can do, I feel a sense of hope because there are things that we can do that will help solve this problem. It is also important to keep in mind that research is always being done, so there is always a possibility of discovering a new way of manufacturing building materials in a non-destructive way.
I believe that I can bring about change in this world through my circle of influence. On the last day of this class, we discussed how influential one can be on those around them and I could not agree more. I have always noticed how people act like those that they hang around, and I have even noticed this with myself and my friends. As I continue my education, I will encourage my peers to question if the choices they make are sustainable. I will try my best to inform them of the wicked problems that our society creates when I see fit, in an attempt to educate those around me. I believe that the more educated we are on wicked problems, the more possible it is that change will occur. I am currently studying architecture with a minor in sustainable design. I hope that in my future, I will work with a company who believes in sustainable design. I will make sure that I educate my colleagues with my knowledge on sustainable design and do all that I can to influence clients to use sustainable building materials. As for now, I will influence my circle by telling them about the sustainable choices I make in my everyday life such as recycling and thrift shopping. I am very hopeful that as the days go by, more and more people will become educated on the global crisis our world is facing today. If we continue to persevere on the track of a sustainable planet, then we can make a difference and save our people and planet.