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Policy Terps Tackle Wicked Problems

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On Oct. 27, the School of Public Policy's undergraduate team hosted its fourth annual Wicked Problems event. The panel discussion celebrated Halloween while analyzing five “wicked” policy topics. 

  • Ballot Boogie People: Election Security and Outcomes

Led by David Mussington, “Ballot Boogey People” discussed the difficult task of ensuring the integrity of the 2020 election. The 15 minute discussion focused on the spooky problems of what all could go wrong: ballots not counted, lost in the mail and voter suppression. Attendees discussed their current perspectives on the election and what they are most anticipating on Nov. 3.

  • Politics and Plagues: The U.S.COVID-19 and Pandemic Response

Led by Adaeze Enekwechi, this panel discussed the difference between the U.S. and other countries’ responses to the pandemic. Enekwechi outlined the policy pathways where a pandemic can be combated. There are several government agencies where information and data are collected from these diseases such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health. From this information, other agencies like Federal Emergency Management Agency provide emergency care for the U.S.. The leadership of a pandemic also goes through the National Security Council, due to pandemics’ potential to be a threat to a nation’s security. 

  • Zoom and Doom: Education Policy in the Time of Online Learning

Led by Curtis Valentine,” Zoom and Doom” was focused on the discrepancies in in-person and online education. Valentine shared that it would take almost 300 years for the gap in access to education between Black and white communities to be closed.

  • Fire and Brimstone: Issues in Climate Change

Led by Arthur Lin Ku, this panel focused on the immediate threat of climate change and how policy has changed in vast ways to increase global warming. The current administration has pulled out of environmental protection policies, such as the Paris Accord. Attendees discussed the consequences of this act and the future of environmental policy. 

  • Something Wicked This Way Comes: Race and Structured Inequality

Led by Erica Smith, “Something Wicked” referred to the racial inequality of both the structural system of our policies and cultural ways of individuals.Smith began by defining race and how the construct of race relates to individual identity. This panel discussed how to differentiate between anti-racism and not racist and how to speak to combat racism in everyday conversations.

"I had come to the event expecting to listen to an optional lecture or a panel, so I was surprised and a little flustered when Dr. Mussington asked me about my feelings toward the election," said Nadia Lee ‘24. "I was really honored to be a part of a conversation with professors and I would definitely come again next year."


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