About this online course


Learn how to analyze and structure complex socio-technical problems and how to manage uncertainty. Discover how to use problem structuring as a key element in dealing with societal challenges and  socio-technical problems and how it helps to avoid implementation of wrong solutions. 

Successful problem solving requires finding the right solution to the right problem. But how do you structure complex or wicked problems? Analysts confronted with complex situations must first actively explore the problem and its context to formulate an approach. 

In this MOOC, you will learn how to go from a ‘poor’ to a ‘rich’ problem description.  You will use tools and approaches of problem structuring, that help you  create a clear picture of complex situations and to support, policy, regulatory and governance decisions. 
You will focus on instruments such as problem demarcation, multi-actor analysis (including a values perspective), system analysis and ways to identify and to deal with deep uncertainty. You will also learn why an iterative process is always necessary. 

The focus in this MOOC is on so-called ‘socio-technical systems’.  It means that both social and technical complexity have to be considered and that these are interdependent. Just think about energy transition, climate change, Covid  pandemic, the health sector, water governance, or sustainable cities. In all these cases, multiple actors with conflicting interests and values have to be considered (and add views that change over time), including fast technical developments, institutional fragmentation and uncertainties.

Warning: after this course you will embrace complexity!

What You'll Learn

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Identify the characteristics of complex problems and socio-technical systems (multiple stakeholders, technical complexity, interdependencies, emergent behaviour tipping point, etc.) 
  • Structure such problems in an iterative way by means of different instruments and approaches (problem demarcation, actor analysis, means-end analysis, systems diagrams) 
  • Analyze uncertainty and include this in the problem structuring process 
  • Apply complex problem structuring to a variety of case studies 


Course Syllabus

Module 1: Understanding complex socio-technical problems and the implications for problem structuring

Module 2: Problem structuring and means-end analysis

Module 3: Multi-actor analysis 

Module 4:  Systems diagrams and boundaries

Module 5:  Unlocking the future: identifying and managing uncertainty


This is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that runs on edX.


Basic understanding of problem-solving techniques and analytical skills.

  • Starts: Sep 10, 2024
  • Free | Earn certificate for $149
  • Group fee: contact us
  • Length: 5 weeks
  • Effort: 4 - 5 hours per week

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