We believe that there is an important distinction between Issues and Problems.
Issues are broad topics that contain multiple smaller, specific concerns. Education, for example, is an issue. Homelessness or Hunger, LGBTQIA Rights, Racial Equity: these are all broad categories that we call Issues.
Problems are specific challenges within a larger issue area. Problems often have clear geographic boundaries, and sometimes they refer to specific subpopulations.
For example, if the Issue is Education, perhaps the problem is Inadequate Teacher Pay in Colorado. Or even more specifically, Inadequate Teacher Pay in School District 11.
We distinguish between issues and problems for a number of reasons.
First, we encourage students, staff, faculty, and community partners to co-create an understanding of what they will work on, and how they will do their work together. Moving from large, abstract issues to concrete problems often clarifies what we can do together - and how we might do it.
This also allows individuals to share what they see as the specific problem to be addressed - but encourages group consensus on a problem they can tackle together.
Secondly, identifying a specific problem often leads to very specific actions. These actions can be mapped on to a timeline, and it's possible to later measure whether your actions were successful.
In short, articulating a clear problem allows groups to organize around a solution.
To use the example of Inadequate Teacher Pay in School District 11, A group would need to determine:
Why who makes decisions about teacher pay?
What actions might be taken to influence these decision makers?
Who will take these actions?
When will these actions be taken?
Were our actions successful?
The term "Issue" is a neutral one: our world, all nations, all states, all regions and cities have issues.
We call the particular challenges we face "Problems" because it suggests we can solve them.
In the CCE, we believe that we can work together to solve specific problems related to big issues and contribute to a more just and equitable world.