UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


BLGP0004 - Collective Problem Solving for Inclusive Prosperity

Availability & prerequisites

This is a core module on the MSc Global Prosperity programme. It is also available as an optional module to all UCL postgraduate students. There are no specific pre-requisites although students may benefit from taking Research Methods 1: Measuring Global Prosperity (BGLP0002) before taking this module.

Module content

The advancement of a new type of prosperity requires engagement in a range of problem-solving activities. Alongside conventional approaches to social and ecological challenges by actors from the governmental and voluntary sectors (for instance), novel kinds of problem-solving methods that bring different sectors together and generate innovative solutions are now badly needed.

Problem-Solving for Global Prosperity takes stock of a number of emerging methods that are responding to this urgent need, ranging from social innovation labs to Human Centred Design, idea competition formats and participatory action research. The module treats students as (future) transition leaders and managers who need to be able to pair diverse new problems with suitable problem-solving methodologies and programmes. The focus is on collective problem-solving approaches that can cut across sectors that normally operate in isolation, mobilising collective creativity, contrasting standpoints and significant resources.

Illustrative Module Outline

  1. Introduction: collective problem-solving methods and prosperity
  2. Transdisciplinary methods
  3. Decolonising methods
  4. Participatory Action Research
  5. Human Centred Design and Design Thinking
  6. Social innovation labs and communities
  7. Strategy tools and boundary objects 
  8. Crowdsourcing and idea competitions
  9. Forum Theatre methods
  10. Poster presentations

Indicative Reading

Adler, Paul, Seok-Woo Kwon, and Charles Heckscher. 2008. ‘Professional Work: The Emergence of Collaborative Community’. Organization Science 19,2: 359–376.

Afuah, Allan, and Christopher L Tucci. 2012. ‘Crowdsourcing as a Solution to Distant Search’. Academy of Management Review 37,3: 355–75.

Castán Broto, V., Ensor, J., Boyd, E., Allen, C., Seventine, C., & Augusto Macucule, D. 2015. Participatory Planning for Climate Compatible Development in Maputo, Mozambique / Planeamento participativo para o desenvolvimento compatível com o clima em Maputo, Moçambique. Bilingual edition. London: UCL Press.

Eisenhardt, Kathleen, Melissa Graebner and Scott Sonenshein. 2016. Grand Challenges and Inductive Methods: Rigor without Rigor Mortis. Academy of Management Journal 59,4: 1113-1123.

Harvey, S., R. S. Peterson, and N. Anand. 2014. ‘The Process of Team Boundary Spanning in Multi-Organizational Contexts’. Small Group Research 45,5: 506–38.

Polk M. 2014. Achieving the promise of transdisciplinarity: a critical exploration of the relationship between transdisciplinary research and societal problem solving. Sustainability Science 9(4): 439–451.