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Transdisciplinary Problem Solving

A guide to transdisciplinary problem solving resources available from the ANU Library

Unknowns (change-oriented)

As an aspect of the change-oriented characteristic of transdisciplinary problem solving (see ANU Framework for Transdisciplinary Problem Solving), being able to understand and manage unknowns is a key component of achieving the ANU graduate attribute Capability to Employ Discipline-based Knowledge in Transdisciplinary Problem Solving.

This includes recognising that in most transdisciplinary problem solving, it is impossible to know everything that is relevant, so that attending to unknowns can assist in making better decisions, especially to avoid or minimise adverse unintended consequences and nasty surprises. To do this it helps to develop an understanding of both what is known and not known about the problem, as well as more generally understanding different kinds of unknowns, such as known unknowns, tacit knowledge, deep uncertainty (or unknown unknowns) and unknowns arising because issues are ignored. Knowledge about unknowns and how to manage them is scattered across multiple disciplines and areas of practical experience. It is also important to appreciate that unknowns are the source of creativity, adventure, surprise and freedom. 

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