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Theories of Change

Social change is messy - sometimes it happens quickly, sometimes it takes a very long time, often it has unexpected outcomes and ripple effects. There’s value in understanding the underlying elements of change, and we have a lot to learn from successful social movements.

Whether it takes the form of a series of teach-ins highlighting the need to protect indigenous rights, or a nation-wide divestment campaign, or simply the creation of a new composting program in an office, social change is a product of people coming together with a common vision at a critical moment and deciding to work together. Communication is valued, information is shared, and decision-making is often participatory.

Below are some great resources for stimulating dialogue around the process of social change. There are many ideas and philosophies out there, and we’re partial to those that embody positivity, collaboration, and creative nonviolence. Check them out and consider your own role in the diverse sustainability movement at McGill!


Story of Change

The Story of Change explores how stepping up as citizens rather than consumers has the potential to change the game entirely.

Watch the Video Here

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Story of Solutions

The Story of Solutions suggests that by reorienting our goals we can discover solutions to multiple problems at once.

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Sustaining Social Change

A brilliant exploration of Sustaining Social Change by cofounder of Organisation Unbound, Warren Nilsson.

Watch the Video Here

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Academic and popular resources for exploring the process of change:

Structural Intertia and Organizational Change

     by Michael T. Hannan and John Freeman

The Change We Believe in But Never Test

    by Jonathan Foley

Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System

    by Donella Meadows

Harvesting One Hundred Fold: Key Concepts and Case Studies in Environmental Education

    by Donella Meadows