Spring 2021: Semester in Wicked Problems
Full-time, 15 credits (DIAL 390W, 391W & 392W)
Program dates: January 5 - April 12, 2021
The world is becoming increasingly complex. Climate change, mass migration, and epidemics of chronic disease are just a few of the wicked problems we will face in the coming decades. The Semester in Wicked Problems (Spring 2021 Semester in Dialogue) will explore some of these problems and many others using dialogue and systems thinking.
Dialogue is intended to be an engaging and inclusive conversation for all participants and is based on an understanding that everyone in the room is coming from a different background, and will have different interests and views. The goal of the Semester in Dialogue is to create a space where views can be expressed and where participants can actively listen to each other and learn something new. Dialogue ultimately provides a space to bring together diverse viewpoints, explore these differences, and work towards understanding them better. Systems thinking recognizes that complex problems are different from simple or complicated problems. Some systems are only simple or complicated, meaning they will be predictable, controllable and designable, e.g. sending a rocket to the moon. Other systems are complex, meaning they are unpredictable, self-organizing and emergent, e.g. raising a child.
The Semester in Wicked Problems will enable exploration of a variety of complex problems, what makes them complex, and how solutions to complex problems need to be quite different from the “tried and true” solutions to complicated problems we’ve come to rely on.
What wicked problem keeps you up at night?
Dr. Diane T. Finegood is a professor and fellow in the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. Diane came to the Centre after a five year leave of absence from SFU to serve as President & CEO of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (2012-2016). She has been on faculty at SFU since 1997 in the Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology where her research interests included the pathophysiology of obesity and diabetes. More recently after an opportunity to serve as the inaugural scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes (2000-2008) her academic interests have broadened to include population and public health, health policy, knowledge translation and complex adaptive systems. Her passion is to help people understand that complex is not the same as complicated and that different strategies are needed to address wicked problems.
Chris Yakimov is the Associate Director, Digital Community Engagement for the Office of Community Engagement, SFU External Relations. He has worked as a digital strategist in the private, nonprofit and now public sector, and has a BA and MA from UBC in Psychology and Education, respectively. His graduate thesis was a narrative inquiry that explored the power relations brokered by the word “self” in academic, therapeutic, and everyday discourse. He’s heavily influenced by thinkers like Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Antonio Damasio, Jaron Lanier, David Krakauer and Judith Butler, and brings an abiding and passionate interest in the roles of emotion, autonomy, language and power within the complex bio-relational system that is “us”. Current interests include: critical deconstructions of individuality and economic systems, blockchain, complexity science, chaos theory, and the under-utilized potential of fiction for knowledge mobilization and pedagogy. Vancouver-born, he loves hockey, photography, cli-fi, homemade omelettes and playing Pandemic: Legacy with his 5-year old daughter.
Ilhan Abdullahi is a Somali-Canadian whose parents’ migration journey brought her to the unceded Coast Salish Lands at a very young age. Stemming from her family’s experience of navigating their new world as newcomers, Ilhan has been passionate in addressing social and health inequities experienced by underserved communities from an intersectional lens. With over 10 years of community-based advocacy, leadership and youth outreach, she‘s eager to continue exploring how grassroots community organizing and the process of decolonization through a systems change lens can lead to the liberation of these communities. She hopes to bring her grounded expertise and knowledge in community engagement, health equity, systems thinking and public health to this course.