Isolated initiatives are no longer the best way to solve complex, adaptive social problems.
The collective impact field is learning that adaptive social problems need to be addressed by cross-sector networks that engage and include participants from other fields and areas of expertise. Collective impact requires a common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and backbone support organizations.
Identifying a collective theory of change requires a network approach, with trust and transparency. One way to build trust is for network members to work on small projects together to develop shared purpose and negotiate difference in an environment where the stakes are not as high (Waitzer and Paul, 2011). One such resource is collaborative modeling, a novel approach with the potential to help Launch Pilots visualize and test theories of change for broadening STEM participation.
Another approach that can be integrated with collaborative modeling is the use of networked improvement communities. These make use of three drivers of open-source change that have been recently illustrated by the success of TedTalks: a crowd of people with a shared interest, a shared interest that invites and empowers people to participate fully, and a personal desire among participants to contribute to something larger.
Conference Participant Steps
- Share a collaborative community approach to identifying and implementing high impact and culturally relevant interventions for broadening participation in STEM education.
- Engage Launch Pilot sites in systems thinking through collaborative modeling.
- Provide a lab environment where Launch Pilot teams can work on applications of collaborative community approaches highlighted by the conference and practice galvanizing public support and engagement required for large-scale progress.
- Provide a venue for Launch Pilot sites to showcase their work and engage in collaborative problem solving.