How Change Happens, with Reflections from Melanesia

Image from conference

Duncan Green, Oxfam GB Strategic Adviser, is in Australia for consultations on the recently released draft version of his most recent book How Change Happens.

During this seminar Duncan will reflect on the genesis of How Change Happens, discuss the potential drivers of change identified in the book, and offer some reflections on the relevance of these factors for change in Melanesia.

His presentation will be followed by presentations from:

Grant Walton, Research Fellow, the Development Policy Centre, on citizen activism as a driver of change in relation to fighting corruption in PNG; and Colin Wiltshire, Research Fellow, SSGM, on leadership as a driver of service delivery in PNG. How Change Happens

“There is nothing permanent except change’, Heraclitus, 6th century BC

‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point,however, is to change it.’ Karl Marx, 1845

Human society is full of would-be ‘change agents’, a restless mix of campaigners, organizers and development workers, both individuals and organizations, set on transforming the world. They want to improve public services, reform laws and regulations, guarantee human rights, achieve greater recognition for any number of issues or simply be treated with respect.

Striking then, that universities have no Department of Change Studies, to which social activists can turn for advice and inspiration. Instead, scholarly discussions of change are fragmented with few conversations crossing disciplinary boundaries, or making it onto the radars of those actively seeking change.

This book brings together the latest research from a range of academic disciplines and the evolving practical understanding of activists. Drawing on many firsthand examples from the global experience of Oxfam, one of the world’s largest social justice NGOs, as well as the author’s 35 years of studying and working on international development issues, it tests ideas on How Change Happens and sets out the latest thinking on what works to achieve progressive change.’

Duncan Green

Duncan Green is Oxfam GB’s Senior Strategic Adviser, and author of From Poverty to Power: How Active Citizens and Effective States can Change the World. His influential development blog can be found at

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