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What does it take to make change?

29 July 2010

up up upWhat does it take to make change? This question fascinates me, and never fails to get people talking. Some people believe that change — for a better world — comes from the powerful. Things need to be changed from inside the system. These change leaders often go into politics, or law, or into the corporate world, to shape the policies and practices that ultimately shape society. Others believe change comes from the outside, and see themselves as activists for the greater good, bringing truth to power, putting pressure on the system, and rallying society to also push for change. Others feel that change comes from knowledge. Only by seeking the truth, the scientific truth, can you achieve understanding, and only through understanding our world, can we begin to change it. In reality, all these beliefs are correct. Change comes from everywhere and everyone. But the world can get a bit chaotic when everyone has something to say. People speak different languages (KiSwahili, French…scientific, political…global, local), and have very different value systems. What’s often missing is a bridge, to help bring together these different knowledges and values, and eventually produce some kind of new knowledge that’s more widely valid and understood. That’s where communication can play a big role, especially strategic  communication that reduces these gaps by working at the boundaries.

For some related scholarly articles on linking knowledge to action (or K2A), visit Harvard’s Knowledge Systems for Sustainable Development programme.

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