The world has problems, universities have departments

Date and time: October 24th 2019, 12:15 – 13:15

Location: ETH Zentrum, HG D18.1

The world has problems, universities have departments: Interdisciplinary problem solving at ETH

We expect students to find solutions for tomorrows problems. But even today world’s problems range from climate change to anti-microbial resistance and are really “wicked” (Rittel & Webber, 1973 see

These problems:

  • involve multiple stakeholders that disagree on what the problem is,
  • do not come in disciplinary packages,
  • have associated costs and consequences that cannot be foreseen,
  • have no right or wrong solution but only solutions, that are more or less acceptable to the diverse stakeholders.

Finding an acceptable solution requires integrated responses that draw on different levels of enquiry and disciplines. Approaching problems in an interdisciplinary way will be a necessity and a reality for many of ETH’s students in their professional life. They must be prepared for it. We invite two speakers that share their experiences with building up learning environments that really allow students to acquire and to practice the skill of interdisciplinary problem solving.