How do students of the master’s program in Sustainable Destination Development (SDD) at Campus Gotland address wicked problems in their studies? Keen to share insights into teaching practices, SDD program coordinator Ulrika Persson-Fischier invited two former and two current students to share their experience.
Olivia introduced the concept of sustainable tourism and its connection to wicked problems. Wicked problems lack problem definitions, solutions are often controversial and depend on multiple stakeholders. Climate change, the current COVID-19 pandemic, and plastic pollution are prominent examples.
As sustainability students, we are expected to address these problems and propose solutions. Therefore, we equip our SDD toolbox with competences for sustainability during our studies. Caro shares how she acquired systems thinking competence through engaging with case studies on social-ecological systems. To showcase these systems’ interlinkages, feedbacks, and connections, she learned to use the software Loopy – an online tool for thinking in complex systems which allows students to map interlinkages in loop diagrams.
Carolien reflected on a fun project called “The Mission” which kicked off her studies last September. With the task to create a spaceship which houses 100 people for travels of 6000 years, she and her team embarked on a journey to develop ideas on how to navigate through time and space with a limited number of resources. And yes, you guess right: while thinking about the spaceship, the students also mapped their vision of a sustainable and just future.
Backcasting presents an application of the anticipatory competence since we imagine how we want the world to look like in 50 years (or our spaceship in 6000 years). With our vision in mind, we can define necessary steps which allow us to move towards our vision.
First a student and one year later a teaching assistant, Leonie had the chance of participating twice in the Projects in Multidisciplinary Teams course. Here, students rely on their interpersonal and strategic competencies to help local business owners, event organizers, or governance agencies to address their current challenges. Using the design-thinking process, Leonie accompanied students from ideating first thoughts to implementing feasible solutions. These group projects also demand interpersonal and normative competence – but rest assured that these are the first two things students equip their SDD toolbox with.