How To Bring About Large-Scale Behavior Change PDF Print E-mail

July 30, August 13 & September 10, 2011, 10am-2pm in downtown Seattle

Series Description

One of the most confounding challenges facing the sustainability movement is how to bring about a massive shift in human behavior.  This master class series explores a variety of powerful insights from cognitive science for developing successful social change strategies.  You'll learn how meaning arises in the workings of the human brain, why emotions are absolutely vital for engaging people in a process of persistent change, and what the root causes are that have driven societal institutions to the edge of ecological collapse.

Participants will explore the evolutionary origins of morality and discover the psychological foundations of identity that merge values, ideology, and institutions into the powerful stories we collectively live in the modern world.  Techniques will be provided to begin using this knowledge to communicate effectively, increase civic engagement, and design better structures for bringing about large-scale behavioral change.

Part 1: Getting the Big Picture

Saturday, July 30, 10am-2pm

Introducing the foundations for creating large-scale behavior change
In this session, we will explore historic examples of successful campaigns to bring about large-scale behavior change to extract a framework for designing campaigns for social change.   We will also cover the fundamental insights from cognitive science that are essential for developing successful change strategies.If it can be done...

You will learn:

  • How the brain constructs meaning
  • The vital role of emotional engagement
  • The root psychological causes of unsustainable behavior
  • The evolutionary origins of morality
  • How all of this applies to campaigns for social change


Part 2: Tools for Social Change Campaigns

Saturday, August 13, 10am-2pm

Introducing the tools and techniques used to design for social change
In this session, we will introduce the “designer’s toolkit” for social change and learn practical ways to analyze cultural trends and effectively engage communities in the change process.The Functional Unit of Social Change

You will learn:

  • How to establish appropriate design criteria for their change effort
  • The basics of agenda-setting (reframing) for setting a new story
  • How social innovation works in the real world
  • A framework for driving the change process


Part 3: Design Lab for Your Campaign

Saturday, September 10, 10am-2pm

Applying foundational insights and tools to real-world projects
In this session, we will create an “action plan” for your project or campaign using a powerful tool called Causal Layered Analysis.  You will apply the knowledge and insights from earlier sessions to your work with assistance from the instructor and fellow change makers.universalconstraints

You will learn:

  • The basics of Causal Layered Analysis
  • How to design a campaign for social change
  • Strategic clarity about critical leverage points in your particular context of change
  • A multi-stage plan for advancing your change effort



We are also raising money to create a stand-alone manual that takes the curriculum materials and translates them into a shareable resource for change makers all over the world.  If you are interested in this material but can't make it to the classes, or if you'd like to be able to spread these ideas further, take a look at the project and please consider donating to that effort: Designer's Manual for Large Scale Change.


Joe Brewer is an innovation strategist who weaves together brilliant people and ideas to create integrated solutions across organizations.  His specialties include design for social change, the architecture of human interactions, creating large-scale behavior change, and incubating social innovations that promote the growth of livable and resilient communities.

Joe has founded several social enterprises including Cognitive Policy Works, a consulting firm that develops useful applications from the cognitive sciences for use by practitioners in the governmental, business, and non-profit sectors; Seattle Innovators, a dynamic effort to promote collaboration throughout Puget Sound around the effort to make Seattle the first carbon neutral city in North America; and the Vicinus Group, a consulting firm that provides relationship mapping, visualization and collaboration training services that leverage the hidden structural and relationship patterns with clients' larger social ecosystems.

Learn more at his personal blog, Chaotic Ripple.


AICP_CM_logo CM | 10.5
AICP members can earn 10.5 Certification Maintenance (CM) credits for this activity, if taken in its entirety, or 3.5 credits for each individual session. More information about AICP's CM program can be found at www.planning.org/cm.


Seattle Public Library, main branch, Wright-Ketcham meeting room
1000 Fourth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104

Closest transit station: University Street
Every downtown bus stops within five blocks
The ferry, Amtrak, streetcar and monorail termini are all within a mile.

What to bring

Please dress comfortably and bring paper and something to write with.
Please bring a packed lunch and a reusable mug. We will provide tea and coffee.

Who should attend

This workshop will be relevant to anybody with an interest in planning and organizing social change campaigns, including government and nonprofit employees, and individuals with an interest in fostering positive behavior change.


One class Full series
  • Full price: $125
  • Government, nonprofit and tribal employees: $100
  • Students and unemployed individuals: $50
  • Full price: $250
  • Government, nonprofit and tribal employees: $200
  • Students and unemployed individuals: $100
Click here to register for the
whole series

July 30, Aug 13 and Sep 10

Gross National Happiness domains

Community Governance

This workshop addresses aspects of the above domains from the Gross National Happiness framework.  Overall, our training program aims to educate people about all 9 domains.

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