PPS in Practice

Principled Problem Solving happens through the Center and within academic departments. The Center for Principled Problem Solving is dedicated to creating avenues for people to explore and learn about social change and innovation as imagined through the lenses of Guilford’s core values of community, diversity, equality, excellence, integrity, justice and stewardship. 

Take a PPS Class

FYE Animal Minds & Ethical Matters

In Animal Minds and Ethical Matters, taught by CPPS Faculty Fellow Nancy Daukas, students will explore some of the complexities involved in relationships between humans and other animals. We will (1) engage in text-based learning about the minds of some non-human animals; (2) learn, through group research projects, Community Service Learning, and other first-hand experience, about how we human animals in the US interact with and use other animals; (3) analyze and reflect on the ethical implications of treating beings with those kinds of minds, in those ways; and (4) discuss whether and how to create positive change related to problems we find. This course has been chosen for enhancement by the Guilford College Center for Principled Problem Solving. All sections of FYE introduce PPS by focusing on the ethical dimensions of complex real-world problems. Our problem area is ‘human/animal relationships’. We will use our studies, discussions, and experiences to understand what ethical problems and practical challenges emerge from our relationship to non-human animals, and what it would take to solve those problems and meet those challenges. In this particular FYE we will go further to explore those relationships and problems outside the classroom, through various community learning opportunities, including service learning. Opportunities for community service learning include working at the shelter for homeless dogs and cats at the Greensboro Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and working with Guilford College alumna Melissa Coe at the Piedmont Wildlife Rehabilitation center. Other opportunities may be created to match your particular interests, if possible. In addition we will go on several field trips to explore some of the animal-welfare resources in the area.

JPS 103 Community Problem Solving

JPS 103 Community Problem Solving is an introductory course in the Community and Justice Studies major and is intended to engage students in an in-depth, first-hand study of approaches to community problem-solving, including an examination of the larger social, political, and economic contexts in which organizations work toward social change. Engaging in critical study of such organizations, and preparing students to participate in their work is central to the Community and Justice Studies (CMJS) major. The major draws on the body of knowledge from Social Theory to study the ways in which diverse communities work toward justice for their members, and for the larger society. JPS 103 is a community learning course. Students volunteer three hours each week at a local community organization, and draw on course readings and discussions to reflect on these experiences. Another important experiential component of the course is the Greensboro Grassroots History Tour. The tour, offered by the Beloved Community Center of Greensboro, offers students an understanding of the social, economic, and historical contexts of the issues they study and work to address through their community learning and principled problem-solving. Students visit historic places that have been left out of history books and museums, and learn the often untold and forgotten stories of people who have struggled for social justice in Greensboro. The course meets the Business and Policy Studies breadth requirement and the Social Justice/Environmental Responsibility critical perspectives requirement.

JPS 335 Reclaiming Democracy: Dialogue, Decision-Making & Community Action

JPS 335 Reclaiming Democracy: Dialogue, Decision-Making and Community Action brings together a diverse group of students and faculty from six area colleges and universities, along with residents from the larger Greensboro community, to study and try to practice democracy with each other. Participants draw on several academic disciplines to study different notions and traditions of “democracy,” leading up to an exploration of democracy in Greensboro. About midway through the course students form multi-campus/community groups to work on projects addressing local issues. The course culminates in a conference open to the public where students present their projects. Some of the recent projects were: Advocacy for Carolina Historic Black Colleges and Universities (which included students from Guilford College and UNCG), Giving Youth Experiencing Homelessness a Voice, Participatory Budgeting in Greensboro, and a comparison of the Occupy movement in Greensboro with the efforts here of the more traditional community organizing group, the Industrial Areas Foundation. The course is offered every other year, and will be offered next in Fall, 2013. It fulfills a requirement for the Community and Justice Studies major, as well as the Social Justice/Environmental Responsibility Critical Perspectives general education requirement.

JPS 339 Research Methods

JPS 339 Research Methods, designed particularly for Community and Justice Studies majors, prepares students as intelligent consumers of research in the social sciences, and teaches them the basic concepts and skills of Participatory Action Research (PAR). PAR is a systematic approach to investigation that allows people to find solutions to problems they face in their everyday lives. PAR often is used to inform participatory or collective actions that create solutions to problems faced by communities. Professional researchers serve not only as experts, but as co-learners who share their research skills and also recognize and benefit from the skills and knowledge of the other participants in the research. In JPS 339, students learn PAR by doing it. They work with a local community organization to investigate an issue identified by their participants. With the leadership and support of the professor and teaching assistant, students collaborate with the organization to clarify the research question, select a method, and collect, analyze, and interpret data, leading to a summary of findings that the organization uses to further their work. At the end of the semester, students present the findings at a community meeting open to the public. Recently, the course has partnered on research projects with the Beloved Community Center of Greensboro, and the Interactive Research Center, Greensboro’s day shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

PPS 110 Intro to Civic Engagement

Explore the concept of civic engagement and survey the status of civic initiatives and social movements across the U.S. Seminar format, includes community engagement hours requirement and self-assessment of skills and expertise.

PPS 111 Civic Engagement Explorations

Further consideration of civic engagement and what is required of citizens in a healthy democracy. Seminar format, includes community engagement hours requirement. Prerequisite: PPS 110 or permission of instructor.

PPS 210 Practices and Narratives

The course explores the first and second tiers of the principled problem solving curriculum, PPS Foundations and PPS Practice. The first tier, Foundations, is brought into focus by examining critical and creative modes of thinking. Course readings that highlight these ways of thinking have been selected and class exercises and assignments challenge students to understand and practice them in new ways. The second tier of the PPS curriculum, Practice, is introduced through readings and case studies presented by Guilford faculty from several disciplines. This class is limited to students in the PPS Scholars Program.

PPS 211 Change, Innovation and Impact

This course explores principled problem solving through an extended examination of organizations and the individuals who make them work. The class will read materials that examine the nature of organizations that seek social change and innovation using a variety of methods and resources. Particular attention will be given to studying what makes organizations effective in accomplishing social change, innovation and impact. In addition, the the class will focus on issues and concerns related to ethics and/in leadership within the selected organizations and beyond. Students are required to undertake 50 hours of assigned fieldwork for this course. This class is limited to students in the PPS Scholars Program.

PPS 250 Change-Making in NC

A new January Term PPS class entitled “Change-making in North Carolina” is being offered this year that exposes students to Principled Problem Solving through the lens of social entrepreneurship (SE). A social entrepreneur identifies and solves social problems on a large scale. In addition to learning from practitioners, students will be introduced to theory, case studies, and critique of SE. Students will identify one issue of personal interest where there might be SE opportunities. As students take day trips to SE sites around the state and speak with innovative social entrepreneurs, they will learn best practices, which can be applied to develop SE plans of their own. Students will receive feedback from SE practitioners and experts on the final project SE plans. Some student participants will be selected for CPPS sponsorship to the spring Sullivan Foundation SE retreat.

PSCI 319 Modern Environmental Problems

PSCI 319 Modern Environmental Problems, taught be Kyle Dell, is the interdisciplinary junior seminar required for all Environmental Studies majors at Guilford College. The course seeks to provide students with a case-study approach in understanding how to translate environmental values into policy, economic and social action to benefit the environment. Understanding an environmental problem, as well as one’s own values, represent valuable and necessary accomplishments; however, studying how others share their understandings and values related to the environment model solutions that students can follow and learn from as they move beyond Guilford. Abraham Lincoln counseled us that in America “With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.” If this is indeed true, effectively sharing environmental values necessary for addressing our most pressing needs represents an essential problem-solving skill for Guilford College graduates of Environmental Studies.Students accomplish this principled problem-solving outcome by sharing and communicating in a mode most have little formal experience: documentary filmmaking. Student groups of four or five students propose, plan, shoot, edit, research and present a fifteen- to twenty-minute documentary film on an environmental problem they wish to address. Through the course of the semester-long project, students are required to engage in not only traditional academic research and writing, but also interview experts from across the country, consider artistic and technical rules for shooting video, and editing their films for a wider public audience. Many students leave the project both proud and exhausted, but also admitting that their film may be the first project at Guilford they can share with family and friends at home. The films have also taken on a life of their own, getting students into graduate school programs as well as landing jobs for graduates in Washington, D.C. as lobbyists for environmental groups.

principled problem solving experience minor

The minor requires a minimum of 16 credit hours (4 courses).

The Principled Problem Solving Experience minor is a unique learning community in which students will demonstrate sophisticated understanding of the relationship between one or more of Guilford’s core values and a specific and significant real world problem. PPS Experiences require a significant commitment on the part of a student and are available only to those students at the beginning of each PPSE. PPSE topics and learning communities rotate and change, so please consult with the Center for Principled Problem Solving for PPSE’s currently accepting students.

PPS Experience typically involve a mix of traditional coursework and experiential opportunities (e.g., internships, abroad or field experiences, research, community service, etc.) and rely upon perspectives from a variety of disciplines. Real world problems and the College’s core values are not exclusive to a single discipline. Interdisciplinary learning represents a key component of each PPS Experience. Finally, students will have common experiences and courses that seek to build and strengthen the PPSE learning community for each student.