How to Influence the Way People Think to Change How Society Works
An online and self-paced course to craft your strategy and gain powerful tools for scaling impact by shifting mindsets, narratives, and mental models.
About the learning journey
A comprehensive course developed by Ashoka Globalizer, where we present a framework, strategies and reflections on how to advance systems change by changing the mental models that underpin the way systemic structures operate. Mental models are deeply embedded ideas and schemas in people’s heads about how things work or should work in the world. The ways of thinking shared across large parts of society play a critical role in establishing and maintaining systemic structures that manifest mental models in very tangible terms.
Influencing the way people think, thus, has an effect on whether business as usual in a system is maintained or challenged. A new mental model adopted across some parts of society can provide the basis for contesting the existing order of things including power relations and can fuel the development of broad social movements which can shift systemic structures.
- Identify mental models behind a social or environmental problem.
- Trace their roots and journey to people’s psyche.
- Develop alternative mental models that would get to people as effectively.
- Deploy new mental models by constructing a new narrative environment.
- Channel new ways of thinking into changing the systemic structures that perpetuate the problem.
Who this is for
This course is open-sourced. Its learnings are applicable to any sector and are designed for social innovators, intermediaries, funders, and change leaders wanting to scale their impact by shifting mindsets, mental models, and narratives.
- 6 weekly video modules (total of 3 hours including guidance and inspiring examples)
- 4 case studies of shifting mental models about domestic workers, smoking tobacco and food waste
- 1 playbook with prompts and frameworks to apply to your case and a rich library of additional resources
- 1 podcast season with real-life practitioners
This self-paced course is open-source and available upon registration.
Self-paced learning. We recommend blocking time to complete one module a week (90 minutes). We also advise finding a peer or team member to go through the course content with as well as scheduling a specific time to share and get feedback on your systems change strategy. This peer-to-peer element will greatly advance your learning and understanding.
Module 1: Why to Influence How People Think & Why This Course
An introductory video to the course in which we discuss the definition of mental models that serve as lenses influencing people's behavior and systems at large. We also cover some recommended logistics for course participants.
Module 2: Mental Models Behind the Problem and the Vision
This module will help you identify which mental models fuel the structural root causes of the problem of your concern and how they need to be transformed for a system to produce better results.
The prompts for this module are the problem tree, stakeholders’ thinking & behavior, the chain of demand, the formulation of a new desired mental model and exploring the feasibility of changes in thinking.
Module 3: How Mental Models Are Created
In this module, we explore the current narrative environment relating to your cause and the narrative environment we would want to create.
Module 4: Different Segments in the Audience
In this module, we look at the social group we would like to influence and its different segments according to their openness to change and figure out who from the early adopters could be our allies and how.
We carry out the audience analysis for the problem of your concern and explore potential partners who can help you do this work in the best possible way.
Module 5: Immersing Audience into New Narrative Environment
For a person to adopt a new way of thinking, three different components need to be affected at three different levels. We want to make sure that people in our audience gain awareness of the issue, become willing to change their thinking and behavior, and are capable of implementing new thinking and new behavior in practice.
This module will help you identify activities to increase people's awareness, willingness, and capacity to act in a new way at the individual, social and structural levels.
Module 6: From Shifts in Thinking to Tangible Systemic Changes
The final part of our journey will be about channeling changes in public thinking and increasing demand for structural changes at the level of decision-makers in politics and business.
This is the time to harvest the fruit of narrative work and turn it into a tangible force in the system. The playbook will help you formulate how to interact with decision-makers in business and government.
Support our work
This learning journey is offered free of cost thanks to the generosity of our community. To help us develop new content and make sure it is accessible to more changemakers please donate to Ashoka today! Any contribution is deeply appreciated.
Florentine Roth has been with Ashoka since 2018. As a partner at Ashoka Germany, she is currently accompanying potential new Ashoka Fellows through the intensive selection process.
In doing so, she places particular emphasis on diversity and inclusion. As a member of the Globalizer team, she also develops strategies for systemic change with fellows worldwide.
Before Ashoka, she conducted research on value systems in social entrepreneurship and led social projects at a local level for an NGO in Peru.