Your Prospectus requires that you write about the significance of the research—the “so what?” question. What original contribution will this study make? How will it affect professional practice or other practical application, and how can findings lead to positive social change?
Research results often have social change implications and make a difference in the world. Choosing to conduct research on an area or topic that can do so suggests that you are attempting to be the kind of researcher whose intellectual pursuits are altruistic. Note that one of the required sections of your Dissertation is the implications of your research findings for fostering positive social change. As you design your research plan, identifying implications for social change, it is critical that you examine any related ethical considerations to these social change efforts.
Majchrzak and Markus (2014) write of positive social change resulting from systemic policy research findings, in the sense that it “involves both evidence and meaning to create outcomes that help to change the world” (p. 2). In order to do this, it “requires people to take actions, observe the consequences of those actions, and then change their actions based on feedback” (pp. 2–3), or “learn by doing.” Of course, policy analysis is only one type of research in public policy and administration. Even so, Majchrzak and Markus continue, “We know that it takes passion to change the world, but it takes more than passion to make the world a better place. It takes critical thinking, evidence, meaning, and careful value judgments” (p. 9).
“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish.
They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.”
(Bill Drayton, CEO, chair and founder of Ashoka)
The factors described by Majchrzak and Markus characterize social entrepreneurship as a means to positive social change. Social entrepreneurs maintain a vision of how to improve a given social condition, transforming systems to create lasting, systemic, and sustainable social impact. Their focus is on the social mission of creating transformative change for complex social problems, such as poverty, illiteracy, lack of affordable housing, economic disparities, human rights abuses, challenges to peace and security, and environmental destruction, to name a few.
Given this vision, they create and apply ideas, strategies, and actions to promote the worth, dignity, and development of individuals, family systems, neighborhoods, communities, organizations, institutions, cultures, and societies—locally, nationally, and globally. As a route to social innovation and social justice, social entrepreneurship is a form of leadership that maximizes the social return on efforts to change the world, while fundamentally and permanently changing the way problems are addressed on a global scale. Social entrepreneurs employ a wide variety of creative approaches and practices from diverse academic disciplines and professional sectors. These methods allow social entrepreneurs to develop and implement pattern-breaking solutions for previously intractable social problems.
Social transformation is within the reach of all communities, through citizen engagement and action, in the belief that people have the inherent capacity to own and solve their own problems, through partnership, commitment to inclusion and impact, and innovation. Social entrepreneurship may encompass social enterprise, service learning, community service, and social activism. Social innovation may emerge from these approaches, with the opportunity to provide widespread system change. Social justice work is done on many levels: Funding, direct service, education, and long-term public policy reform, typically in partnership and coalitions with other organizations.
These aspects of deliberate scientific research, conducted with integrity, together with the passion for social transformation, are expected of Walden Ph.D. students. The following commitments to social change illustrate the importance of addressing this issue in your Premise, Prospectus, Proposal, and Dissertation.
Walden University Vision, Mission, and Goals
Vision: Walden University envisions a distinctively different 21st-century learning community where knowledge is judged worthy to the degree that it can be applied by its graduates to the immediate solutions of critical societal challenges, thereby advancing the greater global good.
Mission: Walden University provides a diverse community of career professionals with the opportunity to transform themselves as scholar-practitioners so that they can effect positive social change (“Vision, Mission, and Goals,” 2013–2014 Walden University Catalog, March 2014).
The Walden University Commitment to Social Change: Students, alumni, faculty, and staff at Walden University are committed to transforming themselves through the scholar-practitioner learning model, built on the belief that “knowledge is most valuable when put to use in the interest of the greater good.” Effecting positive social change is defined by a commitment to “improving the human and social condition by creating and applying ideas, ”strategies, and actions to promote the worth, dignity, and development of individuals, communities, organizations, and society as a whole” (“Introduction, About Walden University,” 2013–2014 Walden University Catalog, March 2014).
The Walden community helps to bring the university’s mission to life by participating in and leading research, speaker series, conferences, and service initiatives and projects that are making a difference in communities around the world in their focus on justice, sustainability, and peace.
Mission of the Ph.D. Program in the School of Public Policy & Administration (SPPA): In order to create and maintain thriving communities, leaders and managers must have the vision and skill to plan, develop policies, implement programs and services, and manage resources effectively. Leaders in public service and all sectors of society should be grounded in scientific inquiry and scholarship.
The program prepares students to meet the challenges of creating and providing programs and services in an increasingly complex and collaborative environment. The program educates students on critical public policy issues and the latest best practices to promote social change through effective, forward-thinking leadership and management.
In this Discussion, you will explain the significance of your study, to include positive social change. To prepare for this Discussion, review the Social Change resources listed for the week.
By Day 4, post a description of the anticipated significance of your study, to include the implications for positive social change.
- In your post, incorporate and reference Expanding Our Understanding of Social Change and use the Preparing Walden Learners for Social Change matrix.
- Explain why your research is important to the public policy and administration field.
What implications do you anticipate your research will have for the “social” and “change” components of the matrix, e.g., community and collaboration? Be specific about who might benefit and in what way.
- Analyze ways this area of interest may lend itself to research-based solutions.
- Explain one or more of these questions related to ethics and social change:
- In what ways does your proposed research empower the people it is intended for, vs. strengthening the idea that they are victims in need of your charity?
- To what extent or in what ways will you invite the recipients to participate in the design because you value their perspectives?
- In what ways might the results of the research lead to social change for some but not for others?
- How might the results be used to make decisions that harm specific groups of people?
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