Seeking Solutions

What is Seeking Solutions?

The Seeking Solutions component of the new Core Education curriculum was envisioned to showcase OSU’s transdisciplinary expertise in evaluating the causes and potential solutions to the toughest, most complex problems faced by our planet and society today.

A central goal of this category is to have students wrestle with complex, multifaceted problems, and evaluate potential solutions from multiple points of view. Overall, this is a course that is designed to deepen how students think about problem-solving in ways that transcend disciplinary-specific approaches. Specifically, we want to help students achieve transdisciplinary thinking—a method of studying complex problems that integrates ideas from diverse scholarly fields in order to deal with the inherent complexity of some urgent problems of the present human situation (Oxford).

In response to longstanding campus interest in implementing a teamwork component into general education requirements, Seeking Solutions courses will include interdisciplinary student teamwork as a core component. Teamwork is a prominent component of best practices in general education. In addition, stakeholder groups, notably our industry partners, consistently emphasize that working in groups with disparate others (people with different backgrounds, goals, and priorities) is an area in which students need experience and practice.

Unlike disciplinary-specific capstone courses that have students with similar training and interests working together, Seeking Solutions courses have no prerequisites and are required to maintain a diverse enrollment that attracts students from all majors.

In accordance with our goals for learning and general education at OSU, the issues and problems focused on in this category will be considered from the angle of the global dimension.

Seeking Solutions Learning Outcomes

  1. Analyze a complex, multi-faceted issue that is resistant to a simple solution, including the scope of the problem, identifying and defining its causes, and impacts on a diverse variety of stakeholders.
  2. Evaluate the consequences of different approaches or solutions to a complex, multi-faceted issue.
  3. Develop a communication plan or product to explain the problem or its potential solutions to one or more identified stakeholder group or other “real world” audience.
  4. Demonstrate skills that enable effective collaboration through interdisciplinary teamwork in one or more of these learning outcomes.

Seeking Solutions Frequently Asked Questions

The Seeking Solutions Learning Outcomes, Criteria, and Rationale Criteria 3 specifies that Seeking Solutions cannot double count with major requirements. 

Criteria 3: Not double count for major requirements. 

  • Q: What if a course is an approved Seeking Solutions course and also a requirement in a degree?  
    • A: Students will take the course to complete their degree requirement, but the course will not double count with Seeking Solutions. Students will need to take an approved Seeking Solutions course to complete their Core Education requirement that is not a course required in their degree. 
  • Q: What about approved Seeking Solutions courses that are required in minors or certificates? 
    • A: Minors and certificates are not considered major requirements, therefore, an approved Seeking Solutions course can double count.

Seeking Solutions Courses in the Works

Annie Hommel
Dr. Annie Hommel, GEOG/H 332 Climate & Health 

In Dr. Hommel’s course, students examine how social and environmental determinants of population health are impacted by anthropogenic climate change both spatially and temporally. They learn theoretical approaches and methods from human-environment geography and public health to construct a cross-disciplinary framework for considering risk, vulnerability, and social justice in relationship to climate change and human health outcomes. In conversation with their classmates, students evaluate the influence of political and economic processes on health disparities and inequity.

Student groups work collaboratively on a multi-component project on a specific climate-induced event, affected population(s), and associated health consequences, and formulate a recommendation for remediation and/or mitigation.
Jacob Hamblin
Dr. Jake Hamblin, HST 492: The Nuclear Age

Nuclear technologies are at the center of tremendous dilemmas about energy, climate change, environmental pollution, and global security. They suggest abundant power, medicines, and agriculture, but also secrecy, weapons, and harm to humans and natural environments. Professor Hamblin’s course explores the contentious history of the nuclear age, using real-world examples and primary sources on science, technology, and politics.

Rebekah Sinclair
Dr. Rebekah Sinclair, School of History, Philosophy, and Religion

In two, experientially focused Seeking Solutions courses, OSU students will engage directly with and learn from Peruvian Indigenous communities about how they are hybridizing and adapting traditional moral-ecological knowledge with Western science/environmental values to frame and solve climate change related problems in their more-than-human communities. Both the Peru-based study abroad and the novel Ecampus version blend philosophical, ethical, ecological, cultural, and biological approaches, and will include direct interviews with experts, cite visits, interactive media, and citizen-science. Focusing on eco-communities in three key Peruvian biomes—the Amazonian rainforest, coastal desert and marine ecosystems, and Andean alpine tundra and glacial regions—OSU students will learn about climate change in some of the world’s most biodiverse and impacted areas, even as they learn from and support Indigenous and ecological resiliency.

Resources for Faculty

  • Meeting the supervision and mentoring requirement: Have class size, credit hours, and recitations (optional) that can accommodate at least 30 minutes of supervision and mentoring per week per group

Additional guidance from the Core Ed Committee: The purpose of mentorship and supervision in the Seeking Solutions category is to produce continuous substantive engagement and active learning. This is accomplished by involving students across different disciplines and instructors in meaningful dialogue and teamwork. The CIM proposal and syllabus must set forth a clear plan that shows how this substantive engagement will be implemented. The plan should include how students from multiple disciplines will collaborate, how every individual will contribute to teamwork, how instructors will provide mentorship to each group equivalent to 30 minutes of weekly input and/or feedback, and how accountability for the quality of teamwork will be ensured.

This is not a literal requirement that you meet face-to-face with every group for 30 minutes per week. This is a flexible requirement that there be adequate structure, assignments, and instructional capacity for all student groups to receive appropriate supervision and mentoring. The bullet points below provide flexible models and examples for mentoring and supervision. Instructors can use a mix of mentoring and supervision activities over the 10-week term.

What are the different mentoring models?  What might supervision of student groups look like?
  • One-on-one mentoring: The instructor meets with each group for 30 minutes each week. To mix it up, instructors could meet with different members of each team each week.
  • Peer mentoring: Designated group meeting time or peer review. Perhaps there are group leaders through whom the instructor can communicate out, provide an agenda, etc.
  • Virtual mentoring: Meet with groups on Zoom in a traditional one-on-one mentoring style; or, use a discussion board, Canvas group site, email, or shared doc to collaborate and mentor.
  • Offer weekly workshops to groups with time to circulate and check-in with each group.
  • Get creative! An instructor might try "reverse mentoring," which uses the traditional one-on-one mentoring model but student groups mentor the instructor on their research, ideas, and perspectives.
  • Allowing class time for groups to meet each week and work on their projects while the instructor circulates among groups (this is common in classes that are modeled on "design thinking" principles).
  • Having groups submit a weekly reflection or report on their activities that the instructor grades and gives feedback on.
  • Asking groups to complete low-stakes assignments that the instructor grades and gives feedback on. Preferably, these assignments would have groups practicing key teambuilding skills or learning how to use collaborative tools they'll need for their bigger project.  

Questions? Contact the Seeking Solutions Faculty Fellows

You are welcome to contact the CTL Core Ed Faculty Fellows for Seeking Solutions, Dr. Troy Hall and Dr. Meg Mobley, with questions or requests for more information on proposing or teaching a Seeking Solutions course.