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New Taylor Provocation Paper Available

Announcing the newest Taylor Provocation paper: A Theory of Change-Making: An Ecosystem Approach

Dear educators, administrators, students, and community members interested in changemaking on your nearest campus, read our newest “Taylor provocations” paper. The team of authors are: Maille Faughnan, Anna Monhartova, Chloe Schwanz and myself, Laura Murphy.

We hope the monograph offers a useful model for you to:

  • Guide your organizational ‘theory of change’ process.
  • Clarify your strategy.
  • Ask provocative questions around different academic and extra-curricular programs serving different audiences, on and off-campus.
  • Think about your own monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) across a range of program.
  • Learn about developmental evaluation, a flexible and practical approach to continual learning and improving your organizational work.
  • Learn about an ecosystem approach –noticing how elements are interconnected, interdependent, contingent on the past, and rife with uncertainty.

In this monograph we explore complex issues around the role of higher education centers and departments as engines of changemaking—producing “changemakers” who can be part of producing social innovations; introduce and apply an ecosystem approach drawing from complex systems thinking, and funnel this through the lens of the popular non-profit “theory of change” framework, using the Taylor Center programs as an example.

The newest monograph is 28 pages of text, with some enlightening graphics and a few key references.  The monograph is in three parts.

  • We start with “Changemaking in Higher Education: the Taylor Center, offer a Situational Scan: A Context for a Changemaking TOC,  and introduce an Ecosystem Approach: the Science of Cultivating Change.
  • Part II covers a Changemaking “Logic Model” with attention to Dynamics, Feedback, and Emergence.
  • Part III: Looking Back to Move Forward, offers Some Final Provocations around Evaluation, Sustaining a Changemaking Ecosystem, and invites us: Toward a Learning Community.

This provocation is about two years in the making. It draws from experiences of the Taylor Center team in advancing the recent strategic plan  (2017-20). It draws from the authors’ experiences in programs, evaluations and complexity and in teaching, reading about, and practicing changemaking in a research university.

The Taylor Provocation series aims to generate conversations around the practices of changemaking education and related knowledge production. We hope to help readers clarify their own thinking behind their programs. Our audiences are Ashoka U colleagues, any university members interested in changemaking, community partners, the Taylor Center team, Tulane affiliates, sponsors, and funding agencies, other stakeholders—really, anyone interested in promoting authentic and meaningful chngemaking in higher education in the 21st century.

The TP series are part of the work of the research and scholarship team at the Taylor Center. Learn more on the Taylor website about our programs that use an ecosystem approach to support critical and multi-disciplinary knowledge production for changemaking and to support research and academic scholarship as a path for changemakers/changemaking.

That has been a thought-provoking exercise for us, and we hope it will be for you.  Please join us!

Written by Dr. Laura Murphy

Read Taylor Provocation #2
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