Global Problem Solving

Global Problem Solving

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What are Global Problems? What makes them different than just complex, large scale problems? And what approaches do we have to take to solving them? How should global problems and global problem-solving be approached? What methods and tools and conceptual innovations are necessary? What comprehensive approaches have already been developed? What are the implications for policy of the analysis of global problems set out here?

Global problems cannot be solved one-at-a-time. By their very nature, global problems are complex, intractable, and interrelated. Often, our best efforts to solve global problems fail or even make them worse. Global problems often stress our decision-making processes and institutional capacities beyond their limits and spiral out of control.

Even the best organizations rarely excel at doing more than one thing at a time. Most individuals are hard-pressed to track more than seven variables at once. Yet we live in a seamless web of interrelated global problems, each of which may feed into and shape other problems. Moreover, we do not yet agree on what constitutes global problems, let alone global solutions. Consequently, humanity searches for global solutions at cross-purposes and even in conflict. The result is global gridlock.

Global problem-solving identifies practical ways to untangle this snarl of interrelated global problems by

  • mapping global problems in depth
  • identifying multiple solutions to global problems
  • sharing strategic tools and
  • creating collaborative partnerships to apply these tools to realize global solutions.

This site presents

  • Global Problem Solving Forum
    • essays by leading theorists and practitioners commissioned by the Nautilus Institute to open up this new field.
    • applications of global problem solving and exemplary approaches to global solutions.
  • Tools for global problem solving
    • strategic and technical tools that can contribute to the analysis and resolution of global problems.
  • Global problems
    • selections and listings of global problems and studies of specific global problems.
  • Site map


The Nautilus Institute Global Problem Solving initiative is funded by the Ford Foundation. Nautilus also gratefully acknowledges the support of the MacArthur Foundation and RMIT University.

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Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
30 July 2009