We have to find new ways to work and live together. Inspired by this challenging time OWU faculty have developed a unique course where you will examine COVID-19 as a "wicked problem" and explore how a specific discipline (humanities, natural sciences, social sciences) approaches the large, complex questions revealed by the pandemic.

A new course for fall 2020

At OWU, we believe the best way to approach complex problems is by tackling them head on, with insights and skills gleaned from multiple disciplines and perspectives. The COVID-19 pandemic is what we call a "wicked problem," because it's hard to understand (because our knowledge is incomplete), harder to solve (because there are many competing priorities), yet critical to explore. A liberal arts education is the best preparation that anyone can have for confronting wicked problems.

Rather than pretend that everything will be just as it was, this course asks us to imagine a different future, where we can all work together to keep each other safe. Doing so will require creativity, entrepreneurship, critical thinking, and a commitment to a shared purpose.

This class is a special opportunity to explore what a "new normal" might look like, for our campus, the communities in which we live, and the world.

One concept, three classes, seven sections

We are offering seven full-unit UC 100.6 classes that each count toward General Education distribution requirements depending on the specific section in which you enroll. That is, these courses fulfill Social Science, Humanities, or Natural Science distribution credit. Note that you may enroll in two sections of the class, but you will be required to complete an extra assignment with this option.

Natural Science: 1 section taught by Laura Tuhela-Reuning (hybrid; mostly remote with a few in person sessions)

Social Science: 3 sections taught by Ellen Arnold (online), Paul Dean (online), and Liz Nix (in person)

Humanities: 3 sections taught by Rich Edwards, Susan Gunasti, and Anne Sokolsky (all in person)

There will also be a .25 version that is open to anyone. It will run like UC 150, where students participate in the "global" set of course readings and write reflection essays. This will be a UC credit and will not count toward General Education requirements. However, when you combine it with the .25 units earned in UC 160, you will have a total of .5 unit overall in UC, which may be advantageous for returning students as well.

Course description

"How to Change the World" uses our current moment in a socially-distanced world to introduce students to the concept of "wicked problems" (a social or cultural problem that is difficult to solve due to incomplete or contradictory knowledge, the number of people and opinions involved, the large economic burden, and the interconnected nature of these problems with other problems) and how a multidisciplinary approach can help us understand them. Students will acquire a core knowledge of COVID-19 across all sections of the course but dedicate the majority of the course to exploring how a specific discipline (humanities, natural sciences, or social sciences) approaches the large, complex questions revealed by the pandemic.

Please talk with your academic adviser about signing up to take "How to Change the World."

Explore "We're All in This Together," the online COVID-19 course that 26 OWU faculty taught over the summer to more than 1,400 students.

Department Contact Info


Office of the Provost
University Hall 108
Delaware, OH 43015
P 740-368-3100
F 740-368-3374
E provost@owu.edu