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Theories of Change

"How does change really happen?... these are pedagogical questions, meaning they are meant to be asked in community, in conversation with lived life. The answers are important, yes, but more important is the opportunity to think and feel through these questions collectively." E. Tuck and K.W. Yang, Youth Resistance Research and Theories of Change, in J. Gobby, More Powerful Together.

Jen’s approach to knowledge creation is though theorizing collectively from the ground up with activists, organizers, land defenders and others actively involved in fighting for a more just and ecologically viable world. In this Long Talks session, Jen will share what she has learned about theories of change. She will present an introduction to what we mean when we say ‘theory of change’, a summary of her extensive literature on academic theories of change and the findings from several research projects. These include her doctoral project with climate activists and Indigenous Land Defenders across Canada who have been resisting pipelines and other extractive projects and her current postdoctoral project with community organizers across Montreal who have been working hard to respond to the COVID crisis in ways that aim to transform systems in the long term. She will present several theory-of-change models and describe some of the most common debates over how change happens, with an aim to transcending the debates that fracture our communities and movements, and foster a sense that each of us, and each of our preferred approaches to change, has an important, if insufficient, role to play.


Headshot Jen 2021.jpg


Here is a link to the DIY theory of change toolkit mentioned in the session: Toolkit

Here is the report: More Powerful Together

 Jen Gobby is an activist-scholar, course lecturer at McGill University and post-doctoral fellow at Concordia University. She completed her Ph.D at McGill in 2019 as part of the Economics for the Anthropocene partnership. Her work focuses on understanding and supporting processes of transformative change towards environmental and climate justice. She is the author of the book and report More Powerful Together and co-author of the recent report Decolonizing Climate Policy in Canada. She is the founder of the MudGirls Natural Building Collective and lives in the forest in rural Quebec where she and her partner are experimenting with permaculture and learning from the land. 

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