Making sense of complex technical information, anticipating challenges, and solving wicked problems
As our world becomes smaller and our technology advances, the challenges that face our society become bigger and more complex. As we have advanced, our education continues to be separated by majors often stunting our ability to work across disciplines. Ohio State Battelle Center sees these wicked problems and understands the need for a new way of preparing future technologists to innovate in the public interest.
Our center believes that future technologists are not just prepared for the technical challenges of the day, but understand the broader context and effects of technology on our society. From economics, social structure, public health, policy, etc., the next generation must have an understanding of all of these to make real impact. Our approach to solving wicked problems is built on the tenets of translating highly technical information for key decision-makers and stakeholders, anticipating the unintended consequences of technologies, and innovating new methods for the betterment of all people.
Wicked problems require an interdisciplinary approach to critical thinking. In order for the science of the day to make a difference, we must be able to communicate the impact and importance clearly to those who do not have technical expertise. Expressing the story that science can tell is just as important as the science itself. We help translate highly technical information and put it in the hands of the policymakers and stakeholders who are most able to affect change.
Solving wicked problems has the chance to create bigger problems with effects that are often ignored until they become a reality. The industrialization of our society has created incredible new ways of life but also came with pollution. Social Media gave us a way to connect with one another but also became a faster way to spread misinformation and radicalize populations. Being able to anticipate these consequences allows for more ethical technological advances. We don't just create new products. We look towards the future to understand the effects our research might have, whether it was built for that purpose or not.
Beyond the technical knowledge, the future requires people who are trained to think outside of the silos they form in their studies. Leaders in the public interest must be ready to create fresh ideas and test their effectiveness. Wicked problems require a mindset and a process that keeps the big picture in mind while creating solutions that are feasible, viable, and desirable. Our center utilizes this mindset to lead interdisciplinary teams to find innovative solutions to humanitarian challenges around the world.
What is most impressive about their work is that they are taking a comprehensive, multi-functional look at the issue rather than a stove-piped single function approach.
Creating solutions and training for the future
Our programming not only includes putting our tenets into action, but also equipping the future workforce and leaders to translate, anticipate, and innovate in the public interest. Along with our research program, our curricular and SCOPE programs prepare students to think and act in order to make a real difference in our world. Through a variety of options including professional training, conversations with subject matter experts, and challenging curricular offerings, students are trained to go beyond their siloed majors, obtain skills that will make them better professionals, and create new levels of value for society.
One of the most important parts of becoming a professional is having a community and network for support and growth. We want students to understand the importance of building a professional network and help them start their own. In particular, we stress how in the past, and even today, many professional environments have not been welcoming or open to women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and many other underrepresented minorities.
Professionals with a good support system are more likely to be productive, successful, and add value to the world around them. That is why our student community focuses on breaking down the barriers often put up to students and creating a supportive environment that allows them to thrive academically and long into their professional careers.
Learn more about Battelle Center