Social Change Challenge

MiddCORE@Monterey's Social Change Challenge 2013

MiddCORE@Monterey has a unique feature:  a focus on a wicked social problem in the Monterey area. 

Wicked social problems are those problems in which we can legimately disagree about desirable ends, preferred means, and optimal solutions.  Wicked social problems are – by definition – exacerbated rather than solved via single-sector, single-discipline, or single-actor approaches.  To solve wicked social problems, we need to understand complex adaptive systems, learn to understand multiple perspectives, and deploy new forms of collective analysis, collaborative approaches, and coordinated action over long periods of time.  Most importantly, to make a dent on wicked problems, we need to discover new roles, relationships, and responsibilities between public, private, and nonprofit organizations.  

MiddCORE@Monterey’s curriculum focuses on the competencies to do this.

This year’s Social Change Challenge will center on the future of 28,000 acres of public land – that’s an area about the size of San Francisco – that is currently at the center of deep social, political, economic, and environmental conflict.  Environmentalist want it preserved; private sector entrepeneurs want it developed; towns that straddle the land are partially disenfranchised; weekend hikers and mountain bikers just want a decent set of trails that are regularly maintained and connected to the peninsula’s extensive trail system.  Stretching from the fabulous pacific coast to the crest of a treeless mountain that towers over Monterey, these lands encompass a state park, a national monument, huge swaths of fenced off land where unexploded ordinances are buried, hollowed out and empty shells of buildings and homes, and some of the most stunning views of ocean and inland valleys on the Central California coast.  

Student teams will go out into the community, investigate specific aspects of the problem, talk with stakeholders, and use what they are learning from mentors to devise thoughtful responses to the challenge.  Your investigations and conversations will spread across all hours of the day and evening, and even into the weekends.  Every Friday, teams will compete against one another as they pitch suggestions to actual stakeholders, get feedback from those stakeholders on their ideas, and a winning team will be selected by a panel of judges.   Proposals need to be rigorously assessed and presented in the form of an investment proposition:  why should any stakeholder – or social investor – support your proposal?  These skills too – how to pitch innovative ideas to potential supporters – are central to MiddCORE.  

The challenge, then, is simple:  What should be done with these 28,000 acres?  The answer depends on who you ask and is not understandable in classic problem/solution language or thinking. Alternative thinking and approaches are needed to design relevant responses to technical/environmental/political/social problems like these.  It is these alternatives that government, private sector, scientific, and civil society stakeholders are looking to students of the MiddCORE@Monterey social change challenge to help them design.  Are you ready to work with them?