This entire blog has been about the power people can have in the world, how to make a difference in your community, and thinking about things more intentionally as you do it, thus, being an effective change agent.
Being an agent of change looks different for everyone. Not everyone wants to have the same impact, not everyone has same knowledge or skill sets and, not everyone lives in the same community to have the same affect. With all these differences, it is evident that there is no one criteria that everyone can use to measure if they are making a difference or not. Everyone has their own perceptions of the value they put into making change, and on the impact it is having.
In 2011, Walden University wanted to understand more about this idea of social responsibility in the world and did some research, they have continued every year since. In order to see peoples perceptions of the impact they have in positive social change, they surveyed adults in Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Jordan, Mexico, and the U.S., and compiled their findings in their 2014 Social Change Impact Report. To summarize, they found that adults across the globe, 84% on average, continue to feel that being personally involved in positive social change is important to them. Adults in Canada, the U.S, and Germany are countries ranking least likely to say it is important to them.
While it is important to know that people find this to be a key part of their lives, it also raises the question, what impact is it really having? So, Walden asked them what they thought. “Half of adults feel they are having a major or moderate impact on improving the lives of individuals in their community (53%, on average), creating a better world for everyone to live in (49%, on average), changing behaviors of others to improve people’s lives (53%, on average) and changing attitudes and beliefs of others to improve people’s lives (52%, on average).”
Social change, as I talked about in a previous post, really focuses on the root and systemic causes of the problem, and according to this survey, only 40% feel they are having a major or moderate impact on these systemic changes. Interestingly enough, 73% say it is extremely or very important that a persons involvement with positive social change contributes to long-term changes for peoples lives in the future.
So, how do we get there? If people think it should contribute to long-term, but the work they are doing is not impacting systemic issues that would make it long-term, what are we doing to change that? How are we working with communities and policies to make lasting change?
Making an impact and working towards sustainable change, as mentioned earlier, is different for everyone. The first step in being a change agent is really identifying the type of change you want to work towards, self-reflection. Once you have done that, why not have some fun and learn from people around the world that were used in this study. Walden University organized 6 different types of social change agents from their research.
Take the quiz- see what type you are!
- The Ultracommitted Change-Maker
- The Faith-Inspired Giver
- The Socially Conscious Consumer
- The Purposeful Participant
- The Casual Contributor
- The Social Change Spectator