“I want to change the world.”
At some point in our lives, many of us have said this. But aspiring to change the world and actually changing it are two different things. After all, changing the entire world is incredibly difficult. But that doesn’t mean we can’t improve our local communities. If you’re looking to make things better, even in a small way, you can focus your energy on a social change project. Here’s a little of what you need to know.
When someone asks “What is social change?” it can be hard to give a concise answer. Scholars consider the concept of social change as part of sociology and typically define it as “the alteration of mechanisms within the social structure, characterized by changes in cultural symbols, rules of behavior, social organizations, or value systems.”1 But the definition doesn’t have to be so academic, particularly since social change, in practice, involves real people working to improve the lives of others. In fact, “people working to improve the lives of others” is a fine definition of social change.
Social change can—like all types of change—be divided into evolutionary change (i.e., a slow change that people adapt to over time) and revolutionary change (i.e,. a sudden, disruptive change that includes rapid adoption as well as significant resistance by some). All social change models utilize one of these approaches, either attempting to modify a situation over time or attempting to improve things rapidly.
However, there is no one way to achieve either type of change. Each problem requires its own unique approach. Which means each example of social change is different from other examples. The way you would help a village in Africa secure fresh water is going to be dramatically different from the way you would help a neighborhood in an American city reduce crime. And both of those are going to be dramatically different from the way you would help farmers in Central America secure sustainable sources of funding.
You don’t have to alter your career ambitions to play a role in social change. You don’t even have to stick exclusively to the nonprofit sector. These days, there are numerous socially conscious companies known as B Corps. These for-profit businesses commit themselves to embracing environmental sustainability and/or social change and make the achievement of those goals a fundamental part of their overall business goals.
Additionally, there are many other companies that, while not B Corps, believe in working for social change. In fact, a growing number of business thinkers and leaders have concluded that social change is good for business,2 which is, in turn, helping to increase business practices and business-backed charity efforts focused on doing good. And these businesses aren’t in just one or two sectors. They span the entire range of industry, meaning you can likely work for such a business regardless of your career path.
When you help others, you’re also helping yourself. Research shows that giving to others can lead to personal growth and lasting happiness.3 That makes social change rewarding for everyone involved.
If you want to devote all or part of your career to social change, you can put yourself on the right path by attending a university with a social change mission, such as Walden University. Walden devotes itself to making social change possible by providing a diverse community of career professionals with the opportunity to transform themselves as scholar-practitioners so that they can apply what they’ve learned to effect positive social change.
The list of social change projects led by Walden students and graduates includes a wide variety of initiatives, such as PhD in Social Work student Adrian Green’s work in child protective services, PhD in Health Services graduate Dr. John Buhmeyer’s work to improve the quality of life in cancer patients, and PhD in Forensic Psychology student Angela Martilik’s work to destigmatize mental health in law enforcement.
In addition to providing a learning environment committed to promoting social change, Walden also provides you with exceptional online learning opportunities. This is particularly helpful if you’re a working professional trying to find a way to balance your career with earning a degree. With online education, you can complete your coursework from home. Plus, when you earn a degree online, you get to choose when in the day you attend class, making it much more possible to manage work with school.
Changing the world is possible if you focus on one social change project at a time. With a degree from Walden University, you can gain the professional and scholarly skills to do just that.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.