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  3. Tackling Wicked Policy Problems

Tackling Wicked Policy Problems (PPMN10001)

Undergraduate level 1Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 1
Subject codePPMN10001
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

How can we solve the wicked policy problems facing Australia and our region? ‘Wicked problems’ are complex, have interacting causes and often seem intractable. This subject takes four wicked problems – climate change and environmental destruction; statelessness and the mass movement of people; terrorism and conflict; and inequality – and explores various approaches to tackling them. It considers past, present and future perspectives on these problems and, crucially, asks who is responsible for solving them. Governments play a role in solving wicked problems, and citizens expect them to do so. But by their very nature, wicked problems extend across borders, raising ‘collective action’ challenges. Individuals are increasingly looking for alternative ways to address transnational issues where they feel their governments have failed.

In this subject we ask: What role do governments have in addressing wicked problems in our region? What are the roles for other actors, such as international organisations; civil society organisations; transnational corporations; and individuals participating in social movements? Can these diverse actors design innovative approaches, harnessing new technology and media, to solving wicked problems? We draw on a range of fields such as public policy, international law, environmental science and international security, and hear from guest speakers from the university, government and not-for-profit sectors.

Intended learning outcomes

  • Identify and critically analyse a range of wicked problems, their causes and the roles and interests of relevant stakeholders
  • Analyse and critique the various complex dimensions of the relevant public policy challenges, and the relevant opportunities and constraints facing public actors
  • Recognise and critically analyse alternative approaches to solving wicked problems, including those which challenge traditional public policy perspectives
  • Understand the ways in which public participation can contribute to the formation of responses to wicked problems, including public policy and other types of responses
  • Engage in and contribute to debates about innovative approaches to solving wicked problems

Generic skills

  • The ability to derive, interpret and analyse information from a range of sources
  • The capacity to critically analyse and evaluate competing perspectives
  • The ability to write an essay which relies on sound research and logical argumentation
  • The effective use of written and verbal communication

Last updated: 20 September 2019