Tentative Stages of Progression for an Address at Geneva (Unpublished Manuscript)

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S. Scott Graham


Climate change, the obesity epidemic, plastic pollution, the opioid crisis—for the last several decades, there has been a growing awareness of the chal­lenges posed by what are sometimes called “wicked problems” (Rittel & Webber, 1973). These problems—marked by complex intersecting socioeconomic and/or biogeophysical causes—constitute real and immediate threats to humans, nonhumans, societies, and ecologies. What’s more—given their scale and multicausal nature, so-called wicked problems resist most of the options available in our standard repertoires of tech fixes and social programs. The very nature of wicked problems requires the develop­ment of mitigation strategies that integrate human and nonhuman agen­cies. Identifying effective strategies is, of course, no easy task. As a bare minimum first step, doing so requires bringing together the kinds of experts, policymakers, stakeholders, and citizens who are well-suited to address the particulars of the wicked problem at hand.

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