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Academics

Looking Back on a Wicked Summer

Five weeks, 47 presenters, and hundreds of students later, Wicked Problems, Wolfpack Solutions: Global Change can celebrate a captivating summer of learning. 

Wicked Problems, Wolfpack Solutions is an online multidisciplinary course specially created for incoming first-year and transfer students and their families, spearheaded by former Senior Vice Provost Louis Hunt in 2020. Following last year’s course on pandemics, this summer’s course took a deep dive into the wicked problem of global change.

During the month of July, students explored the science of global change, its unequal burden across different populations, hopeful scenarios and the urgent need to act now. Each week, students and their families were invited to commune for livestream events hosted on Zoom and YouTube Live with expert presenters from the course, covering topics from the history of the universe and paleontology to wildlife ecology and youth-led cultural change. 

Katie Mack on Zoom.
The first livestream event of the course featured astrophysicist Dr. Katie Mack, who was recently named “Tarheel of the Month” by The News & Observer.

Instructors Jason Flores and Melissa Ramirez and Student Outreach Leaders hosted three Fireside Chats for students to come together and talk about what it’s like to join the Wolfpack. 

Students spent Summer Session II hearing from 47 world-leading experts working to research the history of and explore solutions to global climate change. NC State faculty, alumni and experts from other institutions — including the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, Yale University and NASA — worked with DELTA staff to develop engaging video, podcast and livestream presentations. 

Deja Perkins in her video presentation.
Urban Ecologist Deja Perkins explores Biases in Crowd-Sourced Datasets for her featured presentation.

In addition to our talented presenters, this course was made possible by NC State faculty and staff who worked tirelessly to create a quality learning experience for the incoming class of students who had already endured many challenges over the past year. Faculty, instructional designers and technologists, video producers, project managers, librarians, graphic designers, communicators, assessment experts, registrars and student interns from across campus came together to deliver the course to students and their families. 

Did the hard work pay off? Well, take it from one of our students. 

“The fact that the course has only been going on for a few weeks and I have already learned so many things that I never knew or thought about makes me more curious. As well as teaching me things that were the opposite than what I had known, it has really made me want to go further and learn more. I have gone years in my life thinking one thing and this course has completely changed my view of the earth and our climate. It really makes me want to go further into exploring all the different impacts and lifestyles of our world.”

As these students exit Wicked Problems, Wolfpack Solutions, they are prepared to take on their new courses at NC State having learned how to use NC State’s academic technologies, how to manage college assignments, how to explore their favorite subjects and how to engage with their peers and professors in a meaningful way. They have also learned the importance of facing the wicked problem of global change, as we witness its impact before our eyes in the form of heat waves, mass flooding, and unprecedented storms. 

Are you interested in exploring Wicked Problems, Wolfpack Solutions? Would you like to use some of the material in your course? NC State faculty and staff may register to tour the course and its activities in REPORTER. You can also join us virtually or in-person at DELTA Summer Shorts on Thursday, Aug. 5 for a session about the making of the course from the Wicked Problems Development and Instructional Team. Check out a list of FAQs, or contact instructors with additional questions and comments about the course at wolfpack-solutions@ncsu.edu

This post was originally published in DELTA News.