Welcome to Theory of Change.
To begin – credit where credit is due.
First, WordPress offers us new users quite a fitting title with their automatically-generated first post. When you first launch a WordPress blog, a generic post, titled ‘Hello world!’ with instructions in the body for changing the title and content, posts itself to your blog. I decided to keep it. That’s pretty much what I want to say!
Second, I must credit the title of this blog – it is not original – to the field of Peacebuilding and Mr. John Paul Lederach. (I don’t know that Lederach was the first to use the phrase, but his work is where I first became familiar with it.)
A Theory of Change, simply, is a statement or explanation of why we believe a particular action will bring about the desired result. ToC’s, as a practical tool, are derived from slightly complex frameworks and form the foundations of change related programming – peacebuilding initiatives, development projects, and the like.
This blog is certainly intended to be change related, and seeks to explore these Theories of Change by asking how and why we can expect the changes we seek to be in the world – be they social, political, economic, environmental, or other. (Again, credit where its due: Ghandi. But you knew that.)
About your author, and why I’m writing: At the time of this first post, I’m a Global Affairs and Peace Economics graduate student pursuing the simple task of change for the better. What’s Peace Economics, you ask? You’ll have to keep reading to find out, but I think it really represents a new paradigm in our understanding of global relationships. Both of these fields recognize that there’s more to global affairs than inter-national relations and there’s more to economics than personal enrichment. That’s the philosophy I’m trying to advance. I’ve started this blog as a workshop for my theories of economic activism – a place to test drive my ideas about how our economic choices make the world we live in, and to hear feedback on how much you agree, or don’t.
I’m going for a few categories of change – building safer neighborhoods and better schools, tackling global poverty, ending violent conflict, making the world’s economic and political systems work for the people of the world (not just the people of the West) – and I’m surely not the only one out here working on these things. But we’ve been trying many different strategies for many, many generations, and we still have half the global population living on less than $2 per day. Why isn’t global development aid working? Or is it? Why do we have less wars between states, but more wars inside states, and just as many lives lost? And what ever will we do about pollution, energy, climate change, and the daily impacts these have on our lives whether we know it or not? We all want change in all of these areas, but we need to talk about how we’re going to make it. No doubt there are many paths, and we need every single one, but there’s one level where I think we aren’t doing nearly enough. Too often, we aren’t even talking about it. That level is the simplest one, and the largest – it’s 7 billion people big. It’s the level of our very own lives – our day to day choices, from the things we buy (or don’t buy) to how we talk about our political and economic systems. Our conception of the world we live in, and our choices within that self-made paradigm, add up to something, and it is something we can change. It might feel hopeless, like our vote and our one little bit of impact doesn’t matter, but I just don’t believe that. My Theory of Change is simple: that we create the world we live in, and that each of us can make simple choices (even choices not to change a thing!) that result in the creation of the world we want. I mean the world we live in and experience every day and the world we only see on TV or read about in the newspaper. Its all connected, and we’re creating it right now. By reading this blog, and by passing it on, you’re helping to create a world where we recognize and talk about our individual power. That’s the first step. Thanks for taking it with me. And if you aren’t convinced we can all make some change, keep reading – I’ll try to change your mind.