SOLVING COMPLEX PROBLEMS will teach you revolutionary new problem-solving skills. Involving lectures from over 50 experts from all faculties at Macquarie University, we look at solving complex problems in a way that has never been done before. This specialization uses the framework of Big History which synthesizes knowledge across the sciences and the humanities, and provides a powerful foundation to think and research in new ways. Big History has been embraced as an important global framework by the World Economic Forum (WEF). Presentations at WEF by Professor David Christian, one of the creators of this specialization, have included ‘Interdisciplinary Approaches to Solving 21st Century Challenges’ (Davos 2012), ‘Big History for Big Picture Thinking’ (Davos 2014), and ‘Big History, Big Decisions’ (Tianjin 2014). In 2015, the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos had four sessions devoted to Big History including three interdisciplinary ‘Big History, Big Future’ panels on cooperation, innovation, and global growth and stability. These interdisciplinary discussion panels were the inspiration for this Solving Complex Problems Specialization.
Course 1: Analysing Complexity
- The first course of the specialization ANALYZING COMPLEXITY will teach you what unifying patterns lie at the core of all complex problems. It advances your knowledge of your own field by teaching you to look at it in new ways. ANALYZING COMPLEXITY is constructed in the following way: Week I. "What is Complexity?" - What is at the core of all complex problems Week II. "Complex Physical Systems" - What complex problems all have in common in the inanimate world Week III. "Complex Adaptive Systems" - What complex problems all have in common in nature Week IV. "Complex Cultural Systems" - What complex problems all have in common in human society Week V. "Complexity, Fragility, and Breakdown" - Why complex problems arise Week VI. "Complexity in the Anthropocene" - What complex problems face us today
Course 2: Evaluating Problems
- The second course of the specialization EVALUATING PROBLEMS will show you how humans think and how to utilize different disciplinary approaches to tackle problems more effectively. It advances your knowledge of your own field by teaching you to look at it in new ways. EVALUATING PROBLEMS is constructed in the following way: Week I. “Thinking about Thinking” – How problem solving evolved in nature, how the mechanics of our brains work, and the psychological biases that can emerge when we think. Week II. “Philosophy, Science, and Problem Solving” – How humans have historically approached problem solving, from ancient times to the present. Week III. “Approaching Problems in the Natural Sciences” – How people in the natural sciences deconstruct problems. Week IV. “Statistics and Problem Solving” – How statistics can be used to evaluate problems and think critically. Week V. “Approaching Problems in the Humanities” – How people in the social sciences and humanities deconstruct problems. Week VI. “Evaluating the Anthropocene” – How to evaluate the problems of the Anthropocene.
Course 3: Creating Innovation
- The third course of the specialization CREATING INNOVATION will teach you what is at the core of all innovations that solve complex problems and how to foster methods to make big breakthroughs possible. It advances your knowledge of your own field by teaching you to look at it in new ways. CREATING INNOVATION is constructed in the following way: Week I. “What is Innovation?” – What lies at the core of all innovations. Week II. “The Evolution of Human Creativity” – How humans developed the ability to innovate and think creatively. Week III. “Innovation in a Complex Global Network” – How innovations emerge from human networks. Week IV. “Planning Innovation” – How organisations seek out and create the right conditions for new breakthroughs. Week V. “Market Innovation” – What makes innovations more likely to emerge in a market setting. Week VI. “Innovation in the Anthropocene” – How innovations are crucial to meet the problems of the 21st century.
Course 4: Solving Complex Problems Capstone
- From the very start of the specialization, your assignments will be geared toward tackling a complex issue of your choice that you face in your career path, industry, or field. Each phase of the course builds up to a briefing paper that analyzes, evaluates, and attempts to solve a highly complex problem. Not only does this course teach you a skill set, but it puts you further down the road in understanding the problems of your chosen field. It advances your knowledge of your own field by teaching you to look at it in new ways. This is the CAPSTONE where the scaffolding of our problem solving and innovation skills will bear fruit in a series of preparatory assignments to make your briefing paper as effective as possible.
David Baker, David Christian and Shawn Ross