Dummy_1 – 9
Theory of Change
Target group:
All Interested
Event type:
with costs
International Transdisciplinary Conference
Contact person:

Transdisciplinary research (TDR) projects aim to contribute to solving complex and wicked real-world problems by intervening in and supporting processes of social change. Obtaining a joint understanding about:(1) the character, success factors, and barriers of change processes, and; (2) the logic of expected research contributions to change through activities, outputs, outcomes and impacts are major challenges for TD- and transformation research. Theory of change (ToC) is an important starting point for successfully bringing about change.

Envisioned goals
Recently, the ToC approach has gained a lot of attention and has been increasingly applied in TDR contexts. Experience shows that, despite useful overarching guidelines to develop ToCs, there is no universal approach. In recognition of this diversity, the workshop aims to exchange experiences from different contexts and systematizing the different purposes and functions of developing ToCs, as well as the challenges, strategies and remaining questions for further developing the ToC approach and link it to transformation research.

The organizing team wants to introduce and discuss first ideas regarding the following questions:

  1. For what purposes are ToCs useful?
  2. At what stages of TDR can ToCs be developed with which functions?
  3. What is the experience with combining ToC with other methodological elements (e.g. actor analysis, scenario technique, indicator development, etc.)?
  4. What challenges did participants face in developing ToCs and how did they cope with them?
  5. How can the ToC approach be further developed for: a) facilitating its practical application; b) outlining and explaining the mechanisms and conditions for creating social change processes/transformation processes, and; c) understanding the role of TDR projects in transformation processes better?

Workshop structure and design
The workshop will be structured in four steps:

  • Presentation of the organizing team with first ideas about systematizing the purposes and functions of developing ToC (15-20 minutes)
  • Plenary discussion (15 minutes)
  • Break-out groups addressing aspects of the above-mentioned questions (purpose, stage of development, limitations, potentials, challenges, coping strategies, opportunities for further development of the approach), oriented at the inputs that were submitted beforehand
    (35 minutes, documentation of the discussion via miro board)
  • Discussion in the whole group bringing together insights from the break-out groups and agreement on follow-up activities (20 minutes)

The inputs that were handed in are available at this link: https://td-academy.org/en/updates/itd-session-potentials-and-limitations-of-theory-of-change-toc/

For more infromation about the ITD21 and how to participate please click here.

This session is amongst others chaired by Martina Schäfer and Josefa Kny (ZTG) from the tdAcademy team as part of the 2021 International Transdisciplinarity Conference. During the workshop, the potentials and limitations of the Theory of Change will be explored in relation to transdisciplinary research. This is of particular relevance to tdAcademy topic line 1 "Societal Effects".