The Student Group That is Asking, “What is Social Change?”

For the students who enroll in the International Development and Social Change program (IDSC), offered by the International Development, Community, and Environment Department (IDCE), the phenomena of social change plays an important role throughout the development theory and practice that the curriculum is founded upon. However, many students and professors agree that there is lacking the fundamental component that brings about social change – discussion and reflection on the meaning and different forms of “social change” by the agents who can bring about action.

The Social Change Group is an emerging student group at IDCE that seeks to open up spaces of dialogue and exchange about the role of social change in today’s global development initiatives. In becoming future agents of development and policy, the students identify the need to address their questions with community dialogues, faculty panels, and critical analysis of current trends in social and economic progress on the world stage.

Ideas are shared to answer questions such as "How does equality come about?"

Ideas are shared to answer questions such as “How does equality come about?”

Thus far the student-led events have been organized once a month since the Fall 2014 semester, at which time second year IDSC Student Representative Lisa Anderberg hosted a meeting with students to brainstorm learning objectives for their time at Clark. A collaborative platform emerged to share knowledge and narratives on social change, its manifestations and applications, when and where it has been experienced, and how to participate in solidarity with actors of social change, locally and internationally.


Read more about the events below:

  • A Roundtable Discussion with Geography Professor Richard Peet: On ‘Contradictions of Finance Capitalism.’ October 7, 2014 at IDCE Granville Conference Room:
Flyer for October 28, 2014 Event by Thomas Mengebier

Flyer for October 28, 2014 Event by Thomas Mengebier

  • Conversations on Social Change: For What? October 28, 2014 at Higgins Lounge, Dana Commons:
    • All week – Join the Conversation! Add your ideas to the Social Change Bulletin Board
    • Our first theme – Social Change: For What? What world do you want to live in? What does a ‘better world’ look like? Express your ideas in words, pictures, quotes, poems – be creative! Be you!


Flyer for December 4, 2014 Event by Thomas Mengebier

Flyer for December 4, 2014 Event by Thomas Mengebier

  • Conversations on Social Change: How Do You Engage? Faculty Panel. December 4, 2014 at National Grid Sustainability Hub.
    • Hear and discuss what faculty members have to say about the tools we can use and the possibilities we have for social change.
  • The Role of Happiness in Development and Social Change during Clark University’s Week of Happiness. February 3, 2014 at National Grid Sustainability Hub.
    • Join IDCE for a thought-provoking discussion on happiness, and its role in creating development and social change.
Flyer for February 8, 2015 Event by Jacqueline Lyon

Flyer for February 8, 2015 Event by Jacqueline Lyon

Lisa Anderberg, IDSC ’15, describes her experience as a participant in the Social Change Group:

The discussion event “Conversations on Social Change: For What?” captured what I was hoping would emerge from this group – spaces for dialogue that were both personal and academic. Too often I think we, as students, feel like our feelings have to get left at the classroom door. Even when we are asked to relate our experiences to the course subjects, it still seems like we have to sift through those experiences to relate to them in a detached way to be more ‘academic,’ more objective. But, personally, I feel like there is a lot to learn from reflection.

At Conversations on Social Change, we tried to open up space for people to react to the concept of ‘social change’ (What is social change? Is it any different than ‘development’?) and reflect on their interests (What do you want to change? What motivates you?). It was a time to take something that we study academically and relate to it personally – as someone with emotions, feelings, hopes, and fears.

I really enjoyed having a time uniquely set aside for intentionally conversing with peers around a particular topic, with no authors or texts to cite beyond ourselves and our experiences and ideas. Although there were no earth-shattering epiphanies or intense insights, I know I walked away from that evening feeling connected to a community of critical, caring, and creative people. And even if there is no guarantee about how to address the big challenges of the world, knowing you are not alone in the journey is all you need to begin.

Students read the ideas shared on the social change board in the weeks leading up to the event.

Students read the ideas shared on the Social Change Bulletin Board before the “Conversations on Social Change” Event

The IDCE Social Change group seeks to create a departmental forum to recognize, explore, and share IDCE faculty, staff, and student involvement in the Worcester community. This community involvement may take various forms, whether independent initiatives, partnerships with community organizations, and/or for academic credit. Similarly, this events series may take various forms, whether structured as question and answer sessions, presentations, or another format to fit your work and the content you want to share with the IDCE community. The Social Change group will reserve the space, publicize the event, and provide food. If you are interested in participating and sharing your community work, or in case of questions, please contact Pat at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *