Creating a Social Movement: 10 Key Elements

I’ve had the good fortune to work on five Grand Challenges – big, bold issues that attack socially intractable problems by bringing together alliances of organizations and activists.

Today, I share with you a framework that has been extremely important in the success of these Grand Challenges. Based on the work of Dr. Christina Economos and a research team she led in 2001 studying four movements where the United States flipped societal opinion 180 degrees:

  1. Recycling
  2. Breastfeeding
  3. Seatbelt usage
  4. Tobacco cessation

Through research, Dr. Economos and her team were able to identify ten key elements to creating a social movement. She then applied the results of this research to her efforts to address obesity in the school-aged children of Summerville, Massachusetts, and eventually on the national level as co-director of ChildObesity180.

The 10 Key Elements to Creating a Social Movement is a framework that has been used successfully in projects large and small. These critical elements are an excellent place to start for any initiative that relies on building a social movement.

Watch the video to learn more about the 3 phases and 10 Key Elements to Creating a Social Movembent:

  • Framing and building the case
    1. Frame the crisis
    2. Science-based research
    3. Economics
  • Gathering Allies
    1. Develop a plan
    2. Identifying Champions
    3. Coalition Building
    4. Government or policymaker involvement
  • Implementing the plan
    1. Advocacy
    2. Mass communication
    3. Environment and policy change


Download the infographic here. 

Do you need help in your work as a change leader? Email me and schedule a time to discuss your Grand Challenge work.

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