Walden University has been committed to social change since it was founded in 1970. As part of this commitment, students in most every program and specialization are encouraged to actively engage in social action and to become an agent of change. What does it mean to be an agent of change?
Discussion: Becoming an Agent of Change
Walden University has been committed to social change since it was founded in 1970. As part of this commitment, students in most every program and specialization are encouraged to actively engage in social action and to become an agent of change. What does it mean to be an agent of change? As a professional in an educational field, you have chosen to make a difference in the lives of children and students, which is an example of social change. In this course, and throughout your program, you have considered the education and development of children and the role of educators in the community.
For this Discussion, you will analyze how you will continue to use data in creating and supporting effective educational practices. You will also examine your own social change profile and how you can become an educational agent of change.
· Review Walden University’s mission and vision statements, the Callahan et al. paper (2012), and the Fullan (2016) chapters for this module. Consider the impact of data-driven positive social change on government leaders, teachers, and educators.
· Read the Hargreaves & Ainscow (2015) article and consider their ideas about leading from the middle. How might the concepts explored and insights you have gained in this course impact your future goals and your development as a leader of educational change and an agent of social change?
By Day 3 of Week 11
Post a response to the following:
· How will you continue to use data to inform your decisions in creating and supporting effective educational practices?
· How do you envision yourself becoming an educational agent of change in your future professional practice?
· What goals will you set for yourself following graduation to impact children, students, and your community?
· How will Walden’s mission and vision, the goals in the Callahan et al. (2012) paper, and Fullan’s (2016) thoughts on educational change influence your views and practices in the future?
For this Discussion, and all scholarly writing in this course and throughout your program, you will be required to use APA style and provide reference citations.
By Day 7 of Week 11
Read a selection of your colleagues’ posts, noting where you have similar or divergent goals from your peers.
Respond to at least two of your colleagues with suggestions or questions about their social change plans.
Submission and Grading Information
Fullan, M. (2016). The new meaning of educational change (5th ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
· Chapter 11, “Governments” (pp. 209–227)
· Chapter 12, “The Teaching Profession and Its Leaders” (pp. 228–257)
· Chapter 13, “The Future of Educational Change” (pp. 258–265)
© 2016 Laureate Education, Inc. Page 1 of 3
RWRCOEL Professional Dispositions
1. Ethical and Legal Conduct: The candidate demonstrates professionalism as outlined by legal and ethical guidelines within the profession.
a. Demonstrates professional behavior as described in Walden’s Code of Conduct
b. Demonstrates ethical behavior as described by professional codes of ethics
2. Professional Obligations: The candidate meets professional obligations in
a responsible manner.
a. Maintains a strong record of attendance and punctuality, communicating in advance the need for any absence or delay in meeting performance expectations
b. Prepares for professional obligations and meets expected deadlines
© 2016 Laureate Education, Inc. Page 2 of 3
3. Professional Appearance and Demeanor: The candidate demonstrates professional appearance and behaviors in the educational setting.
a. Maintains appropriate appearance through professional dress and grooming
b. Approaches teaching and learning tasks with initiative, confidence, and energy
c. Exhibits composure and self-control
d. Demonstrates flexibility in adapting to changing circumstances and student needs
4. Professional Development/Growth: The candidate engages in ongoing professional development and growth to improve professional practice.
a. Engages in continuous learning through participation in professional development opportunities
b. Applies new ideas to professional practice based on existing data, reflection, and intellectual curiosity
c. Engages in ongoing critical reflection of personal performance to improve
5. Advocacy: The candidate advocates for fairness, equity, and social change in the learning environment.
a. Displays empathy, fairness, persistence, problem-solving skills, and appropriate risk-taking actions on behalf of others
b. Advocates for the social, emotional, physical, educational, behavioral, and basic needs of others
c. Promotes positive social change to enhance educational opportunities and
promote student learning
6. Equity: The candidate demonstrates culturally responsive practices to create an inclusive learning environment that is respectful of diverse cultures, values, and beliefs of others.
a. Displays equitable treatment of others i. Sets high expectations for all learners
© 2016 Laureate Education, Inc. Page 3 of 3
ii. Treats others with respect and dignity iii. Recognizes individual differences in teaching and learning
b. Engages in culturally responsive practices in interactions with students,
families, colleagues, and communities
c. Creates learning environments that are inclusive; free of bias and discrimination and respectful of diverse cultures, values, and beliefs
d. Engages families and other stakeholders in planning for individual success
7. Collaboration: The candidate works in collaboration with others to improve student learning and advance the profession.
a. Builds partnerships and fosters relationships with stakeholders to improve student learning and advance the profession
b. Collaborates with students, families, colleagues, and the community to promote positive social change
c. Uses technology to enhance collaboration, strengthen partnerships, and
foster relationships with others to improve teaching and learning
8. Communication: The candidate uses effective verbal, nonverbal, and technological communication techniques to foster active inquiry, improve collaboration, and create positive interactions in the learning environment.
a. Actively and thoughtfully listens to others
b. Adjusts communication to meet the needs of individual learners and changing circumstances
c. Asks probing, thoughtful questions to elicit meaningful responses
d. Conveys ideas in multiple ways using a professional tone
e. Acknowledges and respects ideas and/or feelings of others; makes others feel welcome, valued, and appreciated in their communications
f. Utilizes technological tools to facilitate communication to improve student
learning and relationships with others
Expanding Our Understanding of Social Change
A Report From the Definition Task Force of the HLC Special Emphasis Project
Darragh Callahan, Elizabeth Wilson, Ian Birdsall, Brooke Estabrook-Fishinghawk, Gary Carson, Stephanie Ford, Karen Ouzts, Iris Yob
Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 2
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© 2012 Walden University, LLC
Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 3
Social change is defined broadly in terms of process and product to indicate that all kinds of
social change activity are welcomed and encouraged at Walden. As faculty members, students,
and alumni have indicated, even small acts can have large consequences, and many of these
consequences are unpredictable. The charge given to the Definition Task Force was to expand
the university’s definition of social change to provide more guidance for teaching, learning, and
assessing the social change mission at Walden. To that end, the Task Force offers the following
To bring about long-term solutions and promote lasting effects through the process of social
change, the following features may need to be considered as appropriate to the context and
purposes of each program. The features are grouped under the headings Knowledge, Skills, and
Attitudes, to encourage a holistic approach to preparing learners for social change. The
groupings, however, are defined by soft boundaries because each feature belongs primarily to
one group but may share some of the qualities of the other groups.
The scholar-practitioner model is particularly suited to social change because knowledge
applied to real-life situations is a scholar-practitioner’s goal. In the scholarly role, the
scholar-practitioner engages in active learning, critical reflection, and inquiry into real-
life dilemmas and possibilities. Careful study and research can reveal the causes and
correlates of social problems and suggest solutions and opportunities for promoting
2. Systems thinking
Many of the issues addressed by social change are complex because there may be
multiple causes and manifestations of the issue that require different responses at many
levels. Systemic thinking is a technique for developing insights into challenging
situations and complex subjects. It usually begins with analysis, which makes sense of a
system by breaking it apart to see how the parts work together and influence each
other. This may be followed by synthesis that aims to develop a set of responses that
address the situation in a comprehensive way. In the Walden community, finding
systemic solutions to challenging issues might be undertaken by multidisciplinary
collaborations in which scholar-practitioners from a number of colleges work together
to examine issues and propose multipronged responses.
Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 4
Those working toward positive social change can enhance their effectiveness by
reflecting on the experience. Reflection can be extrospective, that is, looking outward to
review the short- and long-term outcomes of a project and its implications for the
individuals, institutions, and communities with and for whom one is working. It can also
be introspective, that is, looking inward to examine what has been learned from the
process, including new insights into one’s motives, skills, knowledge, actions, and
reactions. Self-reflection allows for the contemplation of one’s professional and
personal development. Group reflection affords all stakeholders in a social change
project (scholar-practitioners, community partners, policy-makers, and beneficiaries) an
opportunity to process the experience and learn from each other. Reflection employs
critical-thinking and analytical skills. It can be carried forward by questioning and self-
inquiry and may depend on a willingness to see things from another’s perspective.
While reflection needs to be honest, it should also be caring and supportive, examining
strengths as well as weaknesses and successes as along with disappointments. While
reflection may look to the past, its purpose is forward-looking—to make future social
change activities more effective.
In the practitioner role, the scholar-practitioner engages in the application of
knowledge. Learning-by-doing, or experiential learning, has a long history of support
and success in education because it can infuse and sometimes lead to deconstructing or
constructing theoretical understandings within the realities of practical life in the
student’s personal growth, profession, or community. By using recursive loops between
scholarship and practice, both intellectual growth and better practice can occur—each
informing the other. Not merely knowing about theories but actually testing theories in
the context of everyday life is the foundation of a scholar-practitioner’s educational
process and contribution to social change.
Given the complexity of many of the issues addressed in social change efforts,
responsive action may be needed from many different sources. In these situations, the
Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 5
social change agent may want to build working relationships with other entities
including community leaders, service agencies, neighborhood coalitions, businesses,
religious congregations, and other local institutions. Apart from these types of civic
engagement, collaboration with scholars and practitioners in an array of professional
fields may bring a variety of perspectives, research, and applied knowledge.
Partnerships can unite the skills, knowledge, and energies needed to make a difference.
The ability to build a team, combined with leadership, project management, conflict
resolution, and communication skills, may be essential. A significant partner in social
change enterprises is the primary beneficiary; this person has a personal knowledge and
experience that can be invaluable in both analyzing a situation and proposing responses.
The primary beneficiary may be one individual or someone representing the
perspectives of a group of beneficiaries. Working collaboratively with primary
beneficiaries can be mutually educative and rewarding.
Advocacy is a matter of raising consciousness or being the “voice” for someone, some
group, or something that may or may not otherwise have a voice that can be heard. It
may involve political engagement, but it may also be a matter of supporting others as
they negotiate directly with the services and opportunities they need. In light of social
change, advocacy more widely aims to influence not only political but also economic
and social systems and institutions to protect and promote the dignity, health, safety,
and rights of people. Advocacy for an issue often takes the form of education that aims
to bring about a new understanding and awareness. Advocacy may also need to
encompass mentoring activities to build confidence and self-reliance in those whose
welfare is being promoted.
7. Civic engagement
Social change efforts can be supported and reflected in laws by policy-makers. Being
aware of the channels for communicating with civic leaders and knowing how to
effectively use those channels are often important when working for social change. All
institutions and groups—not just government entities—have their own politics, that is, a
prevailing mind-set, an internal structure, and channels of influence and power. Being
able to incorporate and negotiate these politics in support of social change requires
finesse and sensitivity. Understanding this before engaging with others can be helpful,
whether these others are legislators, local agencies and institutions, professional
associations, neighborhoods, ad hoc teams, or professional colleagues. Power
Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 6
relationships also exist between those working for social change and those who are the
primary beneficiaries. Mutual collaboration and power-sharing between the parties
involved can empower all toward more lasting social change.
8. Humane ethics
While a number of emotional effects may prompt one to engage in social change,
including empathy, sympathy, guilt, a feeling of satisfaction, and so on, one’s ethical
code can inform and direct one’s motivated engagement in social change. Humane
ethics is a system of moral principles that guide human conduct with respect to the
rightness and wrongness of certain actions. While personal codes of ethics may differ,
an underlying, common code of a humane ethic is characterized by tenderness,
compassion, sympathy for people and animals, especially for the suffering or distressed,
and concern for the health of the environment in which we live.
Analyzing Social Change
Figure 1 below shows each of the features—scholarship, systemic thinking, reflection, practice,
collaboration, advocacy, civic engagement, and humane ethics—on an axis ranging from 0 to 5.
Each social change activity or project could be mapped onto the axes to show the extent to
which it incorporates each feature. Joining the points along each axis produces a web for each
activity, an example of which is shown in red.
It is important to note that this tool is not intended to be an instrument to assess a particular
social change activity. Some projects and activities will be appropriately strong in one or more
areas but not necessarily in all. Rather, its purpose is to serve as a tool to analyze social change
activities that occur at Walden. It may reveal areas where an activity might be enhanced, and
importantly, it may reveal where the program for preparing students for social change might be
Further, all kinds of social change activities are encouraged, given the range of interests,
commitments, and opportunities for engagement among students, faculty members, and staff.
Most, if not all, kinds of activity can be represented as a web. The purpose of the web analysis
is ultimately to provide a tool to enlarge our vision of the range and features of social change
that seeks long-term solutions and promotes lasting effects.
Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 7
Figure 1. Web map showing each of the features.
Below are some examples of web maps of social change activities based on reports by students, faculty
members, and alumni in a recent research study: Perspectives on Social Change. Pseudonyms have been
Example No. 1. Bookcase Builders
Tom is a Rotarian and undertakes a number of service projects in the community with other Rotarians.
One such activity involves building bookcases. Some members of the club also volunteer with Habitat for
Humanity, which provides housing for needy families. Another member has connections with the local
school district and knew of a recent drive to improve the level of literacy in the community. Putting
these together, the club decided to build bookcases for the Habitat for Humanity homes and, through
the support of another club member who manages a bookstore, give each family a gift certificate to buy
books for the children to put in the bookcase.
This activity would certainly rate relatively high on Collaboration for the networking among Rotarians,
the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, the school district, and the local book store. It also represents
a Humane Ethic in that it shows the responsiveness of this club to the need for these children to read
Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 8
well for their future success in life. As a practice, this need is supported by implicit knowledge about the
importance of motivating children and providing them with opportunities to read. so there should be a
showing on the Practitioner axis. Figure 2 below shows how this project might be mapped.
Figure 2. Web map of the bookcase builders project.
If Tom and his fellow club members want to pursue this project further they might ask whether they
may seek other possible partners for this endeavor, such as the reading tutors, the bookstore
salespeople, the parents, and even the children themselves. Others brought into the program may
contribute more Systemic Thinking to address the problem of illiteracy. The club members may also
consider follow-up activities using other features like Advocacy with a particular focus on mentoring,
Civic Engagement, or some Scholarly study of or research on the effectiveness of the project.
Example No. 2. Basket-Weavers as Story-Tellers
Arsi’s research took her to a remote and needy area of Jamaica, where many of the village women help
support their families through weaving baskets for sale in the tourist areas. Using a qualitative approach,
Arsi listened to and recorded the women’s stories of their lives in abject poverty, analyzed them for
common themes, and presented her findings as her dissertation. The information in this dissertation
could be invaluable to service agencies and others willing to work with these women to improve their
Expanding Our Understanding (July 2012) Page 9
The project is high on the Scholar axis, especially because it is research into a real-life problem that
needs informed solutions. It further exhibits significant Collaboration in that she established personal
relationships with the women so that they could tell her their stories. It is also strong in the Humane
Ethics dimension because it deals with real human need. Writing a dissertation also demands Reflection,
particularly because it requires some discussion of the meaning of the findings and their possible
implications. The dissertation ultimately enters the public domain and, as such, is a permanent voice for
the women whose stories it shares (Advocacy). Figure 3 below illustrates this example.
Figure 3. Web map of the basket-weavers as story-tellers project.
Arsi successfully graduated in 2011. If she wanted to continue with the project, she might share her
findings with policy-makers (Civic Engagement) and service providers, such as business people,
educators, and healthcare workers (Systemic Thinking). If she could disseminate her work through
publications and presentations, she would not only deepen her own understanding (Reflection) but
more directly provide valuable information to service agencies and others to apply in working with and
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