OL 101 Assignment Two Discussion
Online Learning: OL 101 Sustainable Development
Center for Sustainable Development


This week’s resources:
Homework Assignment Two
The Best 100 Sustainable Development Student Projects
Magee Example Project Assignment Two

Assignment Two. What’s your theory of a solution?

Developing a theory of how we plan to address the problem statement and project outline developed during Assignment One.
You concluded Assignment One with a set of community identified problems organized into a unique project outline. You also wrote a short and concise description of the overall problem. Now is your opportunity to develop a theory of how to solve this problem, and to begin exploring specific activities that will fulfill your theory through discussions with colleagues, through your own experience, and through Internet searches.

A theory is just that. In the development world it’s called a theory of change; it’s your theory of what changes in behavior or changes in infrastructure will need to be realized to solve the problem (and its underlying causes). Your theory of change will include the interventions/activities that you are proposing will address the causes of the problem. This week we will also draft a goal statement that reflects our theory of change.

Over the next 8 weeks we will be using techniques to expand upon the theory that you come up with this week, and we will be revisiting your problem statement, goal statement and activities, and improving them as we learn more about our projects. We will lock in on this week’s Project Outline as the final version to be used over the next 8 weeks.

The ultimate goal over the next 8 weeks is to design a project that has long-term, sustainable impact—not a project that address short-term, near-sighted outputs.

But here are some clues to get you off to a good start
1. The simpler your problem statement is the easier it will be to develop a theory of change.
2. The more information that you can find about project interventions that have shown evidence of having worked to solve your problem (on other completed projects), the greater the likelihood that:

your theory of change will be a good one
your project will have long-term impact

Be careful, because your explorations might lead you to activities which a colleague is enthusiastic about, but may not be an activity that offers long-term, sustainable impact. So use your experience, your common sense, and your good judgment to select three activities this week that you believe will be a positive benefit in fulfilling your theory of change.