ASTU 401G and ASTU 401 (TBD) Wicked Problems in Community Development

Program Overview

Applications for ASTU 401 (TBD) will open soon. Students interested in  Check back in a few days for more information about summer 2020 programs.

Course Overview

ASTU 401G “WICKED PROBLEMS” is an upper level course led by the Faculty of Arts!

Designed for students with previous international engagement experience. Students will focus on a case study in India and study the societal complexity of international community development.

Students will learn to utilize the trans-disciplinary tools of systems theory, forum theatre, critical systems heuristics, strategic design and, of course, current best practices in international community engagement.

In their influential paper of 1972, design scientist, Horst W. J. Rittel and city planner, Melvin M. Webber, coined the term “wicked” to describe “problems of governmental planning – and especially those of social or policy planning” that are “ill defined; and […] rely upon elusive political judgment for resolution.” They considered these problems to be of a fundamentally different nature to “problems in the natural sciences, which are definable and separable and may have solutions that are findable.” According to Rittel and Webber, the intrinsic complexity of such “wicked problems” as poverty, homelessness, and environmental degradation could not be solved but only “tamed” or “at best […] re-solved – over and over again.” Perhaps the single greatest consistent contributor to “wickedness” is the lack of consensus among stakeholders as to the correct description of the problem itself, let alone the nature of any possible intervention. This vexing conundrum is often due to differing tacit judgments regarding the “boundaries” of the “system or area of concern” to be addressed (i.e. Should an intervention to address homelessness include strategies around education and employment?) as well as a lack of clarity regarding the specific socio-political contexts and power distributions within any particular development context. The ways that these often unvoiced assumptions can surreptitiously constrain dialogue and action can be particularly acute when well-intentioned citizens from the “developed world” attempt to participate in community development projects with vulnerable populations in parts of the “developing world.”

Focusing upon a case-study situated in India and utilizing the transdisciplinary tools of systems theory, forum theatre, critical systems heuristics, strategic design and, of course, current best practices in international community engagement, this course will engage students in a probing, practice-based dialogue exploring contemporary approaches to the “taming” of “wicked problems” in an international community development context.

Students who complete ASTU 401G may be eligible to complete an enrol in 3 credit course ASTU 401 (TBD), which includes an international service learning component and would take place from May to August, 2020.

ASTU 401 (TBD) Eligibility Criteria Students who have completed their second year (54 credits) by January 1, 2020

Students are eligible to apply to ASTU 401 (TBD) if they have successfully completed their second year (54 credits) by January 1, 2020; have successfully completed ASTU 401G (Winter Term 2) and meet requirements set by the ISL Program.

ASTU 401 (TBD) is part of the ISL program and requires full participation in:

  • Pre-departure learning program from January – April 2020
  • ASTU 401G classes run on campus from January to April 2020
  • ASTU 401 (TBD) classes run on campus for May 2020
  • 12 weeks of fieldwork in an International Service Learning placement from beginning of June – end of August 2020
  • Return seminar and final course-work on campus in September 2020
  • Re-entry debrief and public engagement presentation on campus in September – October 2020

ARA Funding eligibility information can be found here. 

ASTU 401 (TBD) Placement Description

As a part of the ASTU 401 (TBD) course, you will be enrolled in an International Service Learning placement with SELCO Foundation in Bangalore, India. Specific information about the placements will be announced in Feb/March 2020.

ASTU 401 (TBD) Living Environment

You will live with host families in modest conditions. In most cases, you will take public transport to and from your placement.

Program Dates

Date Activity
July 01, 2018 Program application open. Applications are currently being reviewed in the order received.
January – April 2019 Orientation and pre-departure learning sessions (all successful applicants will be expected to be in attendance at all sessions)
January – April, 2019 ASTU 401G course
May – August 2019 ASTU 401 (tbd) course + 12 week International placement including a facilitated workshop approximately mid-way through (exact dates TBA)
September 2019 ASTU 401 (tbd) Course – Post Placement seminar and assignments due (exact times TBA)
September – October 2019 ISL Post-placement reflection sessions and Public Engagement Presentation

*Please note these dates may be adjusted but will be confirmed prior to offer.

ASTU 401 (TBD) Program Costs

Please see the Awards & Eligibility section below for more information. The finalized cost per student is yet to be confirmed, but will be within the ranges in the table below.

Location Full Program Fee with 70% ARA Funding
India $3,900 – $4,400 $1,170 – $1,320

NOTE: The ISL Program fee is separate from UBC course tuition. Tuition dues will be appear on your Student Services Centre account at the beginning of the term(s) in which you receive course credit.

Program cost includes:

  • Pre-departure learning sessions at UBC
  • Room and board
  • Transportation from the airport to your placement site
  • Orientation in host country
  • In-session debrief and workshop part way through your placement
  • Reflection materials
  • Community partner management fee
  • Program management fee

*Fees may be adjusted before offer. Program costs vary primarily due to cost of living expenses per country and region. Placements may be in other countries where ISL community partners are located.

Program cost does not include:

The following expenses are not covered in program costs and are the responsibility of the student.

  • Tuition
  • Airfare*
  • Visas
  • Vaccinations
  • Local transportation while in country
  • Transportation from the project site back to the airport at the end of the placement
  • Personal items, and daily incidentals. You will be required to bring your own laptop.

ASTU 401 (TBD) Process & Timeline

Selection Process

Applications for this program are currently closed. To apply please fill out and submit an online application. Successful applicants will be invited to an interview. After interviews, you will be notified of a decision; successful candidates will be sent an offer letter with further details on the program and detailed instructions on how to accept. You will have approximately one week after receiving the offer letter to accept and pay a program deposit. Your selection into the ISL program includes meeting eligibility requirements, as well as your initial application and your performance in the interview.

Don’t wait to apply, spaces are limited!

Pre-Departure Overview

The pre-departure learning program is designed to prepare you for an international service learning placement. This will include:

  • Pre-departure learning sessions taking place over the academic term leading up to departure led by staff and community development professionals.
  • Creation of a learning and development plan
  • Participant-led events/presentations
  • Facilitated meetings with your placement team to explore learning topics

Post-Placement Overview

You will participate in post-placement activities in September – October 2020, including:

  1. A full day to debrief in September 2020
  2. Return seminar and final coursework in September 2020
  3. Presentation at an International Development Symposium in October 2020