Home > A Theory of Socio-Ecological System Change

A Theory of Socio-Ecological System Change

An academic publication by Costanza

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The key findings

This article discusses "theory of change" and its application in the context of private foundations and organisations seeking to improve society. It distinguishes between a general theory of how social change happens and a project's strategy for achieving its goals. Building on the ideas of Elinor Ostrom, this article proposes a broader theory of how complex systems evolve, including organisms, ecosystems, communities, and societies. The evolution of norms, rules, institutions, and cultures is likened to biological evolution, with selection occurring at multiple levels. This article also explores scenario planning to envision plausible futures and guide intentional change. It emphasizes the need for a cultural evolutionary theory of change to create sustainable and desirable futures.

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Information to inform creating your Theory of Change to articulate your strategy for achieving project goals within your organisation
Exploration of evolutionary paradigm, the evolution and change of organisms, rules, norms, institutions, and cultures.
Discussion around cultural evolution, 'symbotypes', scenario planning and facilitating cultural transformation
Emphasis on the importance of positive visions and hypothetical 'symbotypes' in guiding the cultural evolutionary process
How to create desired future change using the science and theory of intentional change, along with 'sociotecture' to develop and test alternative models

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