Tackling Wicked Problems by Design: Lunch with Nancy Roberts

Join us for an informal brown bag lunch with Naval Postgraduate School professor Nancy Roberts on Thursday November 1st, from 12:00pm to 1:30pm in the Digital Learning Commons.

Nancy is looking forward to discussing her journey to the topic of “wicked problems,” why Design Thinking has promise in “wicked problem territory,” and what you need in any setting to get started as a Design Thinker and problem solver. For more information on Nancy, you can read her bio at the bottom of this post.

What are “wicked problems,” you ask?

If you’re a MIIS community member, chances are you’re already quite familiar with them:

Climate change. Health Care. International Drug Trafficking. Nuclear Nonproliferation. The Global Financial and Economic Crises. Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Human Trafficking. Poverty. HIV/AIDS. Small Arms. Public Education. Disaster Relief. Refugees. Dark Networks. Nuclear Energy. Pollution. Human Rights. Ecosystem Degradation.

“Wicked problems” occupy the messy spaces this world’s most important issues oft lead us; the spaces where past efforts have worsened the situation and stakeholders cannot agree on what, exactly, the problem is.

We look forward to seeing you!


Nancy Roberts  is Professor of Defense Analysis in the Department of Defense Analysis, School of Operational and Information Sciences at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California.  She received a PhD from Stanford University, a MA and BA from the University of Illinois, and a Diplome Annuel, from the Cours de Civilization Francaise at the Sorbonne.  Her previous faculty appointments have been at the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy at the Naval Postgraduate School, the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, and the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University as a visiting associate professor. Dr. Roberts has published extensively in the areas of public entrepreneurship and innovation, strategic management and planning, leadership, stakeholder collaboration, complex networks, dialogue and deliberation.  Her recent work, focusing on “wicked problems”such as the organizational challenges of peace operations and post-conflict reconstruction, won her the Freider Naschold Award for Best Paper at the International Public Management Network Conference in Sydney, Australia.  She is the co-author of Transforming Public Policy: Dynamics of Public Entrepreneurship and Innovation (1996) and editor of two books—The Transformative Power of Dialogue (2002) and Direct Citizen Participation (2007).  Dr. Roberts serves on the editorial boards of Public ManagementThe American Review of Public Administration, and the International Public Management Network Review.  Her current teaching assignments include courses on Planning and Organizing in Complex Networks and Coping with Wicked Problems. She also has served as a consultant for numerous public and private sector organizations and is Co-Director of the Institute for Whole Social Science in Carmel, California.

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