I think a lot of debates we see in the environmental community boil down to people having different “theories of change”.
A theory of change is simply that: a theory about how you think the world changes for the better. Some people think the world changes because of political movements. Others think it takes cultural shifts. Or economic transformations… Or radical technological change… Or some mix of the above.
The important point is that it should be a working *theory*. That means it starts as a hypothesis (an initial guess) and then is tested through experimentation. If the experiments fail, then the theory is simply wrong, and it’s time to move to a new hypothesis.
But people are reluctant to give up their pet hypothesis, and never develop a real theory. For example, people who love technology, markets and economics will usually persist in believing those change the world, even when they don’t. Others strongly believe in political change, and persist in believing that, even if evidence suggests otherwise.
I tend towards an economics and technology bias, I guess, while others lean towards the political and cultural side of things.
My instincts tell me that we’re probably all wrong, and all right, and it will take some unusual combination of all of these theories to make a real difference in the world.
via Facebook, posted with permission.