Speaker: Vanessa Schweizer
Embracing ambiguity to manage wicked problems in the 21st-century
Some of the most important decisions in life -- such as whether to marry, whom to marry, or what career to pursue -- are made under uncertainty. Such decisions are made often 'from the gut'. However, gut decisions are tolerated less for issues of public policy -- especially when homes, habitats, or billions of dollars in investments hang in the balance. Decision analysis provides formal approaches for making sense of high-stakes decisions. However, some decision contexts are characterized by deep uncertainty, where even standard decision analysis may breakdown. In an era characterized by 'alternative facts', deep uncertainty may be increasing. This talk will introduce the burgeoning field of decision-making under deep uncertainty and its relationship to design thinking.
Vanessa Schweizer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Knowledge Integration and holds a PhD in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University and a Masters of Environmental Studies (MES) from The Evergreen State College. Her primary research interest is long-term decision making in the context of climate change, where she has focused on energy planning. Making choices among alternatives requires entertaining possible scenarios and their consequences. Often, people explore scenarios heuristically, considering only a few contrasting cases. Vanessa's interest is in learning from large numbers of scenarios. To do this, she uses her background in Physics (BSc(H)), Mathematics (Minor), and Engineering (PhD) to consider scenarios as spatial objects. This perspective can give new meaning to phrases like "sustainability pathways" and "low-carbon transition".
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