Initial Publication Date: August 29, 2023

Change Theories in Practice: A Discussion Series

Series Overview


Join the Change Leaders working group in cultivating community this fall through discussions on "Change Theories in practice" co-hosted by the Guiding Theories working group.

At our September meeting, Gita Bangera will kick us off with a discussion of "Celebrating the Squiggle"--a story of her experience of the reality of change leadership in practice. In October, Gita will be followed by Melissa Eblen-Zayas (Carleton College) and Laura Muller (The Jackson Laboratory), who will discuss avoiding confusion related to change theories in practice. In November, we will draw connections and synthesize new ideas between the two discussions in a panel discussion moderated by Guiding Theories working group co-leader, Tessa Andrews.


The target audiences for this series are people leading change and thinking about what to do when change doesn't go as planned, change leaders, change researchers.


Our goal is to use these sessions to both develop the community of practice and to provide an opportunity for professional development as leaders at the national scale.

Participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Consider using formal change theory in leading change.
  • Unearth the unconscious capabilities change leaders gain in the process of leading change.
  • Consider the challenges of developing a theory of change for a project.
  • Practice creating plans for revisiting a theory of change throughout a project.

Discussion 1 - "Celebrating the Squiggle" in Change Leadership

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

1-2 pm PT | 2-3 pm MT | 3-4 pm CT | 4-5 pm ET

Presenters: Gita Bangera, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)


Want to know how to unearth your strengths and skills to overcome your next roadblock? Learn to "Celebrate the Squiggle" that led to the success of projects in the past. The Squiggle is what happens to your well-laid out plan when you actually implement it. Unfortunately, when a project succeeds, we all tell the story as if everything went according to our plan. In this session, we encourage you to celebrate the squiggle and learn valuable lessons to help make your future projects successful.

Discussion 2 - What we wish we had known: reflections on leading grassroots change efforts

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

1-2 pm PT | 2-3 pm MT | 3-4 pm CT | 4-5 pm ET

Presenters: Melissa Eblen-Zayas, Carleton College, and Laura Muller, The Jackson Laboratory


In a 2021 International Journal of STEM Education article, Reinholz, White, & Andrews provide a comprehensive overview of change theory in STEM higher education, but STEM practitioners promoting change often are unfamiliar with the literature. We will emphasize what we as practitioners wish we had known about change theory research when we started our project over six years ago. As project leaders, we will consider the frameworks and approaches that we intended to use to promote and measure change at the beginning of the project and reflect on what we've learned from our change efforts – both in terms of successes and failures. We'll provide some suggestions to support other practitioners in successfully moving forward with their projects.

Discussion 3 - When things don't go as planned... what happens then?: Panel on change leadership and change theory

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

1-2 pm PT | 2-3 pm MT | 3-4 pm CT | 4-5 pm ET

Moderator: Tessa Andrews, University of Georgia

Panelists: Gita Bangera, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), Melissa Eblen-Zayas, Carleton College, and Laura Muller, The Jackson Laboratory


This panel discussion will re-engage with Gita Bangera, Laura Muller, and Melissa Eblen-Zayas about how their projects have pivoted and responded to challenges. In a collaboration between working groups 1 and 3, we will have a lively discussion about how leadership and theory are tools to make projects more effective and to increase flexibility in the face of challenges.