Call for Fall 2016 Participation

ESW's Wicked Problems in Sustainability Initiative (WPSI, pronounced 'whoopsie') supports a community of courses from many institutions and disciplines, all working to include complexity and real-world challenges in project and design courses. We think that it should be straightforward to include this critical material, that students learn more when talking with peers from other places, and that ESW's network offers a scalable set of resources to make better education possible. We're currently looking for additional faculty and courses to join in for the fall of 2016 - contact if you're interested!
WPSI provides the following resources:
  • An annual community-determined topic that is broadly applicable but context-dependent, such as air pollution or sustainable housing
  • A set of professional mentors with expertise in that topic, for both recorded guest lectures and design reviews
  • Assessment materials for gauging changes in student confidence and understanding of sustainability and wicked problems
  • Curriculum materials including syllabi for both new courses and adapting existing ones
  • A framework for design reviews that includes rubrics, inter-institutional peer review, and external mentors
  • A shared community with a range of disciplines and course types to provide many approaches to the same problem
  • The opportunity to present final projects to a broader community and get help to support implementation
The specific courses involved in WPSI are generally adaptations of existing project-centric courses. In the Fall of 2015 we had five courses - a multidisciplinary course on approaching wicked problems, and four existing courses with WPSI added on, one in sustainability, one on consumer culures, one on general environmental engineering and one on social entrepreneurship. The materials and community that are part of WPSI allow schools to mold their course offering to fit the backgrounds of their students. We encourage different courses to participate - senior capstones, first-year seminars, and product design courses are all welcome. WPSI is currently focused on the fall term in the US, but would welcome participation from schools outside of North America and particularly from the Global South.
WPSI is currently looking for additional participants for the Fall of 2016. We  invite you to join us for the third year of the program, the topic of which will be decided by the community at our Annual Conference in April. We're happy to help find the right way that WPSI can help you. We want to make sure that any school can expose their students to the complexity of the problems they’ll be dealing with in their careers, and we think that WPSI combines a digital non-profit network, professionals across the country, and  in-person classes and teamwork to make that possible. For more information, please contact Education Coordinator Sarah Seraj at, or visit