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About

Learn about Wicked Problems, Wolfpack Solutions, how it all started during the summer of 2020 and how it became a successful interdisciplinary and collaborative experience for NC State students, faculty and staff.

Wicked Problems…

Summer 2020. Global pandemic. NC State was welcoming nearly 5,000 incoming first-year students. With in-person orientation canceled, how could we welcome them to the Wolfpack?

…Wolfpack Solutions

In 2020, a team spearheaded by former Senior Vice Provost Louis Hunt, Senior Vice Provost for Entrepreneurship Tom Miller and Associate Department Head of Biological Studies Jane Lubischer created Wicked Problems, Wolfpack Solutions, a unique multidisciplinary experience made especially for incoming first-year and transfer students.

The Vision…

A brand new, innovative, engaging, interdisciplinary experience…Open to all incoming students!
A free, two-credit hour course that emphasized what a college education is all about: Different ways of thinking, Different perspectives, and Solving big problems.

The online program allowed students to learn from NC State faculty and experts as they shared their expertise on pandemics from a variety of lenses, including anthropology, biology, vaccines and systems distribution, 70 different disciplines in total. Gaining experience using NC State’s online learning technologies, while developing critical and creative thinking skills.

The first Wicked Problems, Wolfpack Solutions course addressed pandemics, specifically COVID-19. The second course focused on global change, tackling the history, impacts and possible solutions to climate change through the eyes of more than 40 faculty from the sciences, arts and everything in between. The third course addresses The Future of Food. Working with DELTA, presenters created videos, livestreams and podcasts to engage students during the courses. 

Students are encouraged to explore different disciplines, connect with their professors and peers and apply the topics they are learning to the world around them. Beyond the value of facing global challenges in meaningful ways, students also gain two free credit hours for completing the course.

What surprised me was that while everyone had a part to play, solving wicked problems is a team sport that requires cooperation and teamwork to come up with wicked solution.

Incoming Student Reflection

Wicked Problems, Wolfpack Solutions Winter 2021

Our Goals

  • Interdisciplinarity. Explore how NC State faculty and other experts from a wide variety of disciplines each offer valuable, evidence-based perspectives and solutions to the wicked problems of the world and envision the contributions you can make.
  • Transition. Discover and develop skills, strategies and relationships needed to thrive at NC State and beyond.
  • Intentionality. Reflect on how to make informed, value- and goal-driven decisions about your own university experience. Create a conceptual framework for your own college education to help guide decisions about majors, minors, courses, and co-curricular experiences.
  • Community. See yourselves and others as valuable, contributing and cared-for members of the NC State family. Identify where and how you can connect with experiences and with other people to develop your own sense of belonging.

Behind the Scenes

The core team combined faculty, administrators and staff collaborating to create a compelling student experience focusing on empowering students to feel they can be a part of the solution. The pandemic could have created a feeling of isolation for incoming students who could not experience the campus in person. This course fostered a community feeling aimed to help them understand they are an integral part of the pack.

Heart of the Project

The core team included 15 individuals: 1 administrator + 4 faculty + 10 DELTA staff + 1 Wicked Mascot, “Bugsy”

To accomplish the impossible, we divided ourselves into five working groups. Working in parallel, our working groups reached out to contributors beyond the core team to accomplish their tasks.

We had no content, but we did have our theme: Pandemics.

We based the course design on MOOCs, massive open online courses.

We designed a course project that students would complete step-by-step across the entire 5-week semester. It required them to assemble and progressively revise a multi-disciplinary task force to solve a wicked problem. Assessments would be reviewed, but not graded.

Course content would be released weekly (It had to be, we were creating it just-in-time!),

Each presentation would include: three key take-aways, a knowledge self-check, the presenter’s bio, and supplemental materials—for those students eager to learn more.

We planned livestream events to engage students and provide a sense of community. The week that we were tasked with this massive project, and had our very first meeting with faculty, was only five weeks away from the first day of class.

Core Team

The ones who developed the concept from the beginning and brought the concept to life through instructional design, media production, graphic design, evaluation and more.

Listed in alphabetical order.

  • Jill Anderson, Lead Instructional Technologist, DELTA
    • Course design and development, Moodle facilitator, all-around support
  • Christopher Beeson, Lead Instructional Technologist, DELTA*
    • Course design and development, Moodle facilitator, all-around support
  • Clément Bordas, Associate Director of Web Development and User Experience, EMAS
    • Wicked Problems, Wolfpack Solutions 3.0 Website Design and Development
  • Dr. Angela Brockelsby, Associate Vice Provost and Director of Communication, Marketing and Outreach, EMAS*
    • Developed and delivered email communications to incoming students
  • Todd Buker, Associate Producer, DELTA
    • Content Production Working Group lead, and lead producer of course videos, podcasts, and livestream events (live and recorded)
  • Michael Castro, Broadcast and Emerging Media Specialist, DELTA
    • Production support and development of course videos, podcasts, and livestream events
  • Jonathan Champ, Associate Director of Data, Integrations and Custom Applications, DELTA
    • Creation of Moodle course and admin.
  • Karen Ciccone, Lead Librarian for Public Science, NC State University Libraries
    • Student Engagement Working Group lead, liaison with NC State University Libraries
  • Cassidy Colson, Digital Marketing and Communication Specialist, DELTA
    • Writing, communications, events, communication to students, social media, web page
  • Stacey Davey, Executive Assistant, EMAS*
    • Coordination and mailing of citizen science packet
  • Derek DeStefano, Cinematographer and Production Assistant, DELTA*
    • Production support and development of course videos, podcasts, and livestream events
  • Dr. Rob Dunn, Interim Senior Vice Provost of Interdisciplinary University Programs, Professor, Department of Applied Ecology
  • Cathi Dunnagan, Senior Instructional Designer, DELTA
    • Instructional Design and facilitation of presenter content for production and course. Coordination across working groups, ensuring consistency
  • Brett Ellison, Production Assistant, DELTA
  • Megan Ellisor, Assistant Director of Social Media at NC State, UCOMM
    • Communications consultations and support.
  • Lily Fandel, Communications Specialist, DELTA*
    • Writing, communications, events, communication to students, social media, web page
  • Dr. Jason Flores, Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
  • Kerri Fowler, Director of Parents and Families Services, Parents and Families Services
    • Delivered email communications to incoming students’ parents and families.
  • John Gordon, Assistant Director, Instructional Media Production, DELTA
    • Resource support. Back-up Post-Production Editor
  • Rich Gurnsey, Lead Multimedia Designer, DELTA*
    • Graphics Working Group lead, designer, developer and creative director for course visuals
  • Cameron Hill, Associate Director of New Student Programs, DASA*
    • Delivered email communications to incoming students’ parents and families
  • Dr. Louis Hunt, Senior Vice Provost for Enrollment Management and Services (retired)*
  • Dr. Jane Lubischer, Associate Department Head, Biological Sciences
  • Areon Mobasher, Post-Production Editor, DELTA
    • Production support and development of course videos, podcasts, and livestream events.
  • Dr. Maria Oliver-Hoyo, Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
  • Dr. Melissa Ramirez, Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
  • Mary Cole Pike, Director of Public Relations, UCOMM
    • Communications consultations and support.
  • Sherry O’Neal Stallings, Senior Communications Lead, DELTA
    • Communications strategist and Communications Working Group lead
  • Suzanne Stanard, Internal Communications Lead, UCOMM
    • Communications consultations and support
  • Dr. Traci Temple, Director of Planning and Assessment, DELTA
    • Evaluation Working Group lead
  • Jeff Williford, Senior Graphic Designer
    • Support for graphics design and development.
  • Chris Willis, Assistant Director of Planning and Assessment, DELTA
    • Coordination of course evaluation surveys
  • Merranie Zellweger, Associate Director of Project Management, DELTA
    • Project management and facilitation of decisions and action items and keeping the team on track and moving forward

*indicates no longer working at NC State.

Support

Creating the Wicked Problems, Wolfpack Solutions courses is a truly collaborative effort between several NC State departments and individuals.