- Students can describe and discuss the general nature of ‘wicked’ problems, their antecedents and consequences, mainly in relation to issues of poverty and inequality.
- Students can recognize ‘wicked’ problems as they present themselves in different fields of study/academic disciplines, mainly in relation to issues of poverty and inequality.
- Students can identify and discuss different aspects of ‘wicked’ problems, e.g. problems of definition and measurement, multi-causality, scope of the problem, aspects related to philosophy of science and social philosophy.
- Student can apply their knowledge about the nature and different aspects of ‘wicked’ problems to issues of poverty and inequality, and they can elaborate (write an accurate account, discuss, provide argumentation) on these issues in assignments.
- Students develop a number of academic and professional skills (ACVA), listed below:
- Research and evaluate information from a variety of sources and perspectives and draw appropriate conclusions (= information skills). In specific, looking for and evaluating the value of different types of information and publications (e.g. academic literature, papers and documents from national and international organizations).
- Students are able to use insights, ideas and publications of other people in the appropriate way (correct use of citations and paraphrasing, understanding of different forms of plagiarism).
- Communicate clearly and concisely when presenting, discussing, and reporting in formal and informal situations, mainly in writing (academic writing skills).
- Use negotiation skills in student group project work to reach appropriate solutions and agreements.
Freely available literature (e.g. working papers) will be made available on Canvas. Articles with copyright are to be accessed by students themselves via the TiU-library. You can easily find them by looking at the journal website, or by simply typing in the article title in Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.nl/), but you need to be logged in at the university or via VPN. Inaccessible articles or reading material (e.g. book chapters) will be made available by means of a digital reader.
Many of the current, most pressing societal challenges involve dealing with complex social, policy and organizational problems, so-called ‘wicked’ problems. Examples are global, national and regional inequality and poverty, climate change, gender inequality at the level of societies, organizations or households, nuclear technology (energy and weapons), migration and Fortress Europe… These problems share a range of characteristics, which may occur at different levels of intensity, or put differently, ‘wickedness’:
• They are difficult to define and measure;
• They are often multi-causal and have many interdependencies;
• They consequently have no clear solutions and tend to evolve over time;
• They go beyond the capacity of single organizations and often cross national boundaries;
• Measures to address ‘wicked’ problems may lead to unforeseen consequences.
In this introductory course, the main learning goal is to develop knowledge and understanding of what ‘wicked’ problems are, at a basic level. We start with a general introduction in which the main themes of the course are introduced (basic literature on poverty and inequality) and discussed from different philosophical perspectives (social philosophy, epistemology and philosophy of science) (Block 1). In Block 2, students learn about some key aspects of wicked problems. Next, some specific instances or examples of ‘wicked’ problems (or aspects of ‘wicked’ problems) related to the general theme of ‘inequality and poverty’ are discussed by lecturers from different perspectives in the social sciences, in particular from Organization Studies (Regional Inequality in Europe) and Human Resources Studies (Diversity in Organizations).
Type of instructions
Lectures (HC) and seminars (WC or LAB)
Type of exams
Mid-term exam after block 1 (50%), Written assignments (50%),