Wicked problem governance

By investigating the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change on the interaction between science, policy and the public, this project aims to solve how public governance can better deal with severe crises in the future.

The Covid-19 pandemic and climate change cause enormous damage and pose huge governance challenges related to science-policy-public interactions. Due to scientific uncertainty and societal controversies, combined with demanding requests for transformation of technical systems and lifestyles, these problems are wicked, rendering conventional policies insufficient and laden with accidental impact. While much research has focused on each area, only few studies have aimed to learn from comparisons of similarities and differences in governance of the two crises, with their respective merits and shortcomings, in order to draw lessons for how to better cope with wicked problems. This project takes on that challenge and explores in particular a set of critical science-policy-public interactions. It centres on two cases in each problem area – school closure and use of face masks in pandemic governance, and individual mobility and taxation in climate governance. The project draws on governance theories and is based on in-depth interviews with key actors, combined with roundtables, focus group interviews and a larger survey. Besides scientific articles, a popular report and a series of news articles and blogs will be produced. An experienced reference group has been set up to guide the project. By learning from science-policy-public interactions in different wicked problem cases, the project will result in a novel understanding on how to better cope with severe crises.

IFFS is a project partner in this project and below are the people listed who participate from IFFS. The project is based at Uppsala University, where project manager Mikael Karlsson and project member Daniel Lindvall are located.



Principal Investigator

Project members


Formas, Uppsala university