What is the Wicked Festival?


The Wicked Festival is an exposition of student problem solving hosted by the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences and supported by the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL), Citizen Leader, and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship.

The Wicked Festival was motivated by a CITL book group on Paul Hanstedt's book Creating Wicked Students: Designing Courses for a Complex World. The book inspired several important tenets of the festival: Students tackle wicked, complex, multi-dimensional public problems. Students find solutions. At the festival, students talk about their work with others, becoming the "authorities." At the Wicked Festival, students have used presentations, posters, and videos to start conversations about their problems and solutions.

Upon visiting the Radford Wicked Festival in Fall 2022, Dr. Hanstedt observed: “It is so impressive . . . I’ve never seen anything like it . . .. The way these students have engaged their ideas is truly an educational experience. The light in their eyes changes. They’re not just learning about themselves; they’re learning about what they are capable of accomplishing.”

grey bar

How Do Students Benefit?


We have found “wicked” teaching empowers students with the ability to define, research, and solve problems; oral presentation skills; confidence; toleration of ambiguity; collaboration, and understanding failure as part of the process to success.

We hope our wicked problem solvers will be in demand by employers. One of the key career readiness competencies identified by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) is critical thinking. Behaviors associated with critical thinking are, according to NACE: “solv[ing] problems using sound, inclusive reasoning and judgment.”

grey bar

Student Comments

  • “At first I was anxious and not confident that I would be able to successfully present the issue so I really didn’t want anyone to come up to me. However, after my first presentation, I was hoping more people would be interested so I’d be able to share my knowledge. I was a lot more confident and assertive with the delivery I performed as well.”
  • “I left with new skills.”
  • This “built confidence.”
  • “As a poli sci major, I was in my happy place.”
  • Wicked was “amazing."
grey bar

When Is The Next Wicked Festival?

The Spring 2023 Wicked Festival is April 13, 2023 from 5-7:30 p.m. in Kyle Hall 340. Faculty, students, and prospective students may contact Dr. Paige Tan for more information.
grey bar

Learn More

See the schedule of events from the Fall 2022 Wicked Festival at left under Past Wicked Festivals.

How Can Students Take Part in a Future Wicked Festival?

Look for courses in Appalachian Studies, Criminal Justice, English, International Studies, Marketing, Peace Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology, and Social Work that take part in Wicked.

Past/Current Wicked classes and professors

  • APST 495 Research in Appalachia (Professor Tim Thornton)
  • CRJU 495 Critical Perspectives on Criminal Justice (Dr. Steve Owen)
  • ENGL 112 Critical Reading and Writing in the Digital Age (Dr. Laurie Cubbison)
  • INST 101 Understanding the World (Dr. Tay Keong Tan)
  • INST 490 International Studies Capstone (Dr. Tay Keong Tan)
  • MKTG 101 Creativity and Innovation (Dr. Jane Machin)
  • PEAC 200 Peace Studies (Professor Johannes Grow)
  • PHIL 115 Wicked Problems (Dr. Steven Fesmire, Dr. Heather Keith, Dr. Michael Zarella)
  • POSC 111 Big Questions in Political Science (Dr. Allyson Yankle)
  • POSC 130 Changing the World (Dr. Paige Tan)
  • POSC 180 Art and Science of Leadership (Dr. Tay Keong Tan)
  • POSC 330 State and Local Government (Dr. Chapman Rackaway)
  • POSC 335 American Public Policy (Professor Johannes Grow)
  • POSC 342 Chinese Politics (Dr. Paige Tan)
  • POSC 350 US Foreign Policy (Dr. Paige Tan)
  • POSC 355 Terrorism (Dr. Paige Tan)
  • POSC 360 International Law and Organization (Dr. Tay Keong Tan)
  • POSC 392 Political Science Careers (Dr. Paige Tan)
  • POSC 410 Demystifying Leadership (Dr. Tay Keong Tan)
  • POSC 490 Dictators (Dr. Paige Tan)
  • SOCY 370 Environmental Sociology (Dr. Aysha Bodenhammer)   
  • SOWK 220 Intro to Social Justice (Rogerson)
grey bar

Wicked Thanks

The Wicked Festival could not happen without our partners and supporters on campus.

  • Dean Matthew Smith, College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences, for on-going, multi-layered support.
  • Dr. Joe Wirgau, Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS), for printing, logistical, and moral support.
  • Dr. Jean Mistele, Director of the Citizen Leader program (CL), for providing a faculty partner for staff support.
  • Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) for helping to give birth to the Wicked Festival through faculty development initiatives.
  • RU alumni for generous financial and technical support for the festival.
  • Wicked Festival faculty who do these labor-intensive projects to give their students outstanding learning experiences.
  • Faculty, student, and alumni judges.
  • Wicked staff and volunteers.
  • And, lastly, thanks to our Radford students who dove in head first to try to solve some of the world’s thorniest problems.