Bailey, Rowan, MacDonald, Juliet and Beverley, Katharine J. (2014) Interdisciplinary Imaginations: Using Creative Methodologies to Solve 'Wicked Problems'. In: Interdisciplinary Imaginations: Using Creative Methodologies to solve ‘Wicked Problems’., 14th January 2014, University of Huddersfield, UK. (Unpublished)

Creative methodologies are often used to facilitate interdisciplinary solutions for ‘wicked problems’. But can these divergent thinking tools aid interdisciplinary learning in the arts and humanities and with what benefits? This group workshop invites delegates to creative collaborative solutions by testing different art and design approaches to problem-solving.
This workshop intends to generate new knowledge and understanding of creative methodologies in the context of interdisciplinary problem solving. Delegates will be introduced to what constitutes a ‘wicked problem’ and how one might tackle it within a teaching and learning context. It will contextualise different approaches to the use of creative methodologies in postgraduate education, through art and design methodologies and more widely through interdisciplinary networks of social entrepreneurship. The workshop activities will equip delegates with the skills of practicing soft systems methodologies (rich pictures), Edward de Bono’s six thinking hats approach, inference based actions and design thinking models (empathy building and divergent thinking). These skills will be applied to different problems with the purpose of delegates experiencing first-hand interdisciplinary learning across the disciplines.
This event promotes the idea that the condition of the interdisciplinary imagination has the potential to create new learning experiences. The interdisciplinary group can facilitate differing perspectives, deploy and invent new methodologies, actively engage in dialogical processes to produce different dynamics from that of the established disciplines. In this context, the interdisciplinary imagination is also a cross-, trans-. multi-, and intra-creative process to be experienced within the group.
‘Wicked problems’, broadly defined, are social or cultural issues that are almost impossible to solve, due to their complexity. Humanitarian issues are familiar wicked problems: poverty, education, health, sustainability and equality are all indeterminate in scope and scale and thus never resolvable with one clear-cut solution. In the 1970s, Horst Rittel and Melvin M. Webber identified ten characteristics that make problems ‘wicked’ (Rittel and Webber, 1973). These features soon became the benchmark for identifying new and innovative ways to address to the complex barriers of large-scale issues. Bell and Morse (1999), Brown, Harris and Russell (2012), Crouch and Pearce (2012) present current theories and debates within which wicked problems sit, including the positive effects design thinking can bring to these dilemmas.
Calls to actively tackle wicked problems have become a popular feature of macro research trends in design and social entrepreneurship (see Austin Center for Design, Studio H and RSA – Ideas and Actions for a 21st Century enlightenment). The magnitude of complex global issues highlights a growing demand for interdisciplinary teams to come together to effect social change through collaboration. At the core of this growing cultural and social phenomenon is an understanding of the value and benefits of working collectively and creatively, divergently and discursively. Such approaches provide opportunities to tap into interdisciplinary learning experiences, and can be used to actively problem-solve specific issues (see De Bono, 1985; Checkland and Poulter, 2006).

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