Theory of Change & Change Pathways Mapping
A Theory of Change is a comprehensive description and illustration of how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context.
In development projects, a Theory of Change is often produced to help design what is going to be done in a project. In our research for Permaculture Impact, much of the guidance that we found online is aimed towards projects that have not yet started, and seems to be geared towards ‘simple’ interventions.
Q: How can an established, holistic, multi-strand project working with community doing permaculture document its theory of change?
A: We’ve created this course to help! Change Pathways Mapping can be used to retrospectively document your theory of change once the project is already up and running. It is especially helpful if your project is working towards a number of desired changes, as permaculture projects often are.
“Our project (MSPC) emerged and evolved organically, working with the community. I guess we always had a theory of change in our heads, but it was a few years before we attempted to document it formally. By that time, there were so many strands of activity, with different but mutually supporting outcomes, that it felt very difficult to fit that into any of the Theory of Change templates that I had seen. The Change Pathways Mapping course is a response to that. It has helped MSPC to illustrate what we are doing, and highlight the importance of our holistic approach.” – Kate Swatridge, co-founder Malawi Schools Permaculture Clubs, and creator of Permaculture Impact’s Change Pathways Mapping course.
During this course you are going to make a Change Pathways Map, which will help you to elicit and document your project or organisation’s underlying theory of change, and so much more!
Elements of a theory of change
First, we will take a quick look at the usual components of a theory of change. A change pathways map also contains many of these elements.
We will use a simple example of a project that trains people in bee-keeping and helps them to establish their own honey bee hives. Click on each element to see a definition and examples.
In this course, you will focus on mapping your project activities, their outputs and the subsequent outcomes and impacts.