The curriculum consists of four required courses and a total of 10 credits (or 11 credits depending on what design / innovation course students take). Two of the courses are cross-listed across multiple departments, which allows students from any department to complete the interdisciplinary specialization.

  1. Wicked Science (3 credits)
  2. Interdisciplinary Team Science (3 credits)
  3. Rapid Innovation for Public Impact (4 credits), or Advanced Collaborative Design (3 credits), or Graduate Co-Design Studio (3 credits)
  4. Capstone: Careers for Wicked Scientists (1 credit)

5505: Wicked Science

The course ANTHROP/EEOB 5505: Wicked Science (3 credits) is offered every spring semester. (5505 syllabus SP23)

The goal of this course is to train students to become wicked scientists who are able to tackle the grand challenges of today and tomorrow—what are otherwise known as wicked problems. The concept of wicked problem describes a wide range of local, national, and global challenges including: climate change, food security, biodiversity loss, marine plastic pollution, growing inequality, cyber security, and emerging infectious diseases. Wicked problems have two fundamental properties: they are complex with many interdependencies; and stakeholders have different values, interests and conceptions of the problem and its solution. Tackling them requires the skills and attitudes of a wicked scientists. This is the idea behind this transdisciplinary course. You will learn what wicked problems are and learn strategies for tackling the politics and complexity of these problems. Rittel and Webber (1973), who developed the concept of wicked problems, note that because wicked problems are complex and political, it is impossible to “solve” them. However, we argue that when researchers are trained to consider the politics and complexity of these wicked problems, it will lead to more equitable and sustainable resolutions and outcomes.

5510: Interdisciplinary Team Science

The course EEOB/ANTHROP/ENR/VETPREV 5505: Interdisciplinary Team Science  (3 credits) is offered every autumn semester (ANTHROP 5510 syllabus AU22).

The complexity of wicked problems requires an interdisciplinary approach and to be able to effectively collaborate in teams of scientists and other stakeholders, students need to develop the social skills that are critical for success. The goal of this course is to teach students these skills. Students will learn the best practices for building and leading interdisciplinary teams, how to communicate effectively within interdisciplinary teams, recognize and foster the individual qualities necessary to be successful in interdisciplinary teams, build interdisciplinary teams that are intentionally collaborative, diverse, equitable, and inclusive, and create a collaboration plan for an interdisciplinary team.

5620: Rapid Innovation for Public Impact

The course PUBAFR 5620 (4 credits) is offered every autumn and spring semester (EEOB 5620 syllabus AU21).

The Rapid Innovation for Public Impact course is a multi-disciplinary capstone or hands-on applications course in which student teams tackle real, contemporary, complex problems sponsored by government or non-profit agencies. Its goal is to produce solutions that are technically feasible, desirable from stakeholders’ perspectives, and viable for adoption and integration. Following a systematic methodology, student teams develop minimum viable products (MVP) or proofs-of-concept through intensive customer discovery and agile design, development, and testing with customers and stakeholders. Students acquire an in-depth understanding of and experience in systematic innovation, refining problem-statements, engaging customers and stakeholders, navigating public sector organizations, budgeting, and management issues. Since the course delivery is designed to simulate the uncertainty and dynamism of the ‘real world’, students practice foundational professional skills throughout the semester such as: systems-thinking; applied critical thinking; creativity; collaboration; communication; and cultural competence. Teams invest significant time: interacting with professionals outside the classroom; engaging weekly with instructors, sponsors, and mentors; preparing written status-reports; and presenting weekly to the teaching team, sponsors, mentors, peers, and guests for critiques which emulate briefings to management or investors. Students acquire not only tools and leadership skills but an innovation mindset and exposure to a vast array of careers in the public sector.

5650: Advanced Collaborative Design

DESIGN 5650: Advanced Collaborative Design (3 credits) is offered every spring semester (DESIGN 5650 Syllabus SP22).

At the end of the course successful students should be able, at an advanced level, to acknowledge the complexity of social realities and appraise how socio-contextual variables may affect human behaviors; consider unconventional conceptual categories to foster the development of innovative solution; leverage experience design to develop contextually fitted preventive measures or programs; adopt an abductive logic of reasoning and use iterative ideation and divergent scenarii has a reflective framework; work effectively in collaborative multidisciplinary setting; think broadly about the boundaries of specific design discipline, and develop and propose culturally fitted measures.

6400: Graduate Co-Design Studio

DESIGN 6400: Graduate Co-Design Studio (3 credits) is offered every spring semester (DESIGN 6400 Syllabus SP22).

In the course, students will learn from academic and practice-based experts in city and regional planning, environmental science, architecture and landscape architecture; engage in exploratory research activities in the front-end of the design process with a participatory mindset; explore and learn to use a range of physical and virtual methods, tools and applications; participate as a team member on a challenge with potential for social impact in the future; explore design concepts together with stakeholders using various means of generating, and communicating ideas, concepts and/or solutions.

5515: Capstone: Careers for Wicked Scientists

ANTROP 5515: Wicked Problems Capstone (1 credit) is offered every semester (ANTHROP 5515 Syllabus SP23).

The goal of this course is for students to synthesize what they have learned about wicked science and to demonstrate that they have the competencies of wicked scientists who are able to tackle the grand challenges of today and tomorrow—what are otherwise known as wicked problems. In particular, students will learn how to clearly and compellingly communicate the concepts and competencies of wicked scientists to clients, employers, and organizations in their desired career fields