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(Y)Our Health is Focus of Wicked Problems, Wolfpack Solutions 2023

Photo by Becky Kirkland.

How can you attract a new student to participate in a summer course before their first semester at NC State? Offering two free credits is one way. In addition, why not use real-life examples that are relevant to everyone? What’s the catch? There is none!

NC State made an impact by offering Wicked Problems, Wolfpack Solutions (WPWS), an online course experience during the pandemic. The project team has continually updated the content each year for incoming new and transfer students.

This year’s iteration of WPWS focuses on (Y)Our Health. The course will be kicking off on June 26 during second semester summer school. While the topics covered each year change, the underlying purpose of the offering remains the same: to introduce students to the academic technologies they will use at NC State and expose students to faculty members who share their expertise to solve problems every day using an interdisciplinary approach.

Instruction will be led by Associate Teaching Professors Melissa Ramirez and Jason Flores. They designed each unit intentionally to pique student interest by featuring a real-life situation, story or hook, then offering a wide range of multidisciplinary perspectives on the topic. The underlying themes include:

  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Social justice
  • Agency
  • Academic, scholarly and community solutions, innovations, and opportunities

By the end of the five-week online course, students will have a better understanding of the complexity of these health-related wicked problems — specifically, those relating to the Global One Health Academy — which is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a perspective that “recognizes the connection between the health of people, animals and the environment.” Not only that, but participants will develop a deeper understanding that intersectional issues cannot be solved by one person, discipline, group or government.

Students get an introduction to college learning and NC State’s academic technology and WPWS allows students to become exposed to a variety of ideas and problem-solving approaches before they step foot into a classroom. This way, participants have the opportunity to discover a field of study or an area of research they want to pursue, even if they never considered it before.

Students are automatically added to the course and can access it as soon as it opens on June 26. If they complete the course, they earn two free credits. If they do not participate, there is no penalty. Additionally, if they start but do not finish the class, there still is no penalty and it will not appear on their transcript.

Wicked Problems, Wolfpack Solutions consists of videos, podcasts and weekly livestreams with experts in Global Change.

What do former participants have to say?

The course is not required; however, we encourage students to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity created just for incoming students. If you are wondering how students felt after completing the course, take a look at a few of the quotes below.

“A lot of people think that what we learn about in school does not apply to the real world. The things in this course are the real world. It is a class about what is going on within the real world. So it was awesome and very engaging to get that in a class.”

“I think that the way that the course is being run right now is perfect for anyone in any situation, it’s not overly demanding in any way.”

“I considered stopping the course at one point because I figured I did not especially need the credits but the course was so interesting and informative that I stayed.”

“My mom made me [participate] but I ended up loving it.”

The Student Experience

This course is offered fully online through Moodle, NC State’s learning platform, during Summer Session II for new students entering in the fall and again between Fall and Spring semesters for new students entering at the beginning of the second semester.

In each unit students will watch presentation videos or listen to podcasts on a topic, complete self-check activities to reflect on what they learned, and share their thoughts with peers.

Each unit also includes a reflection in which students consider not only course content but also their academic and career interests, values and pathway at NC State.

Additionally, students complete a course-long “project,” broken down over the length of the course, designed to drive home the interdisciplinary nature of wicked problems and the necessity of having many diverse perspectives in order to find solutions.

Students who complete all the activities to complete the course will receive two free credits.

Yes, two free credits toward their degree. The course has been approved to count toward the Interdisciplinary Perspectives GEP requirement.

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