Is it time to go beyond "behavior change"?

I’ve just published a new piece on Sustainable Brands, about current fixations with behavior change — and the need to think more creatively about what this means, and how we are best to go about it.

This is a theme I will be writing and speaking a lot more about in the near future, via blog series, and invited presentations. Will keep you posted here.


  1. Govinda Dickman

    The way I see it, if “behaviour change” is something coerced or forced upon “the masses” by an intellectual or economic elite, it will merely be another form of proletarianisation, and it will exacerbate the alienation that is the root of the problem.

    I have therefore come to believe that what is required first, and last, and always, is that people cease to be alienated from themselves, alienated from each other, and alienated from the ecological and sociocultural realities of their environments. Therefore, anything which contributes towards the unmasking and dissolving of this “triple demon” (these three modes of alienation) is useful.

  2. Renee Lertzman, PhD

    thanks G- couldn’t agree more. this begs the question of application. I work with organizations to implement this into practice. for me this requires generating deeper insight and promoting experiential aspects of the issues at stake. that is, rather than start with desired behavioral changes, begin with the level of meaning and why people do what they do. then, go from there. this is far more effective in my experience.

    • Govinda Dickman

      It’s more effective because it’s more respectful!

      The first thing I learned, when I studied pedagogy and androgogy, was that my beloved syllabus (no matter how enlightened, well-structured or lucid I felt it to be) would be rejected as the insult/assault it in fact was, if I did not begin by considering and understanding the needs and world-views of those who were learning with me.

      Over and over again, I have discovered the truth of this, and it has become the sine qua non, the non-negotiable heart, of all my political activism as well, even in media that are traditionally perceived to be uni-directional, like film or pamphleteering. As a teacher, I discovered that this observation pertained even (perhaps especially) for students who seemed to NEED authority and instruction, and who did their best to force me to adopt the role of “instructor”…

      All I can say is: Great blog, great way of seeing and being, and great social project. Keep up the good work!

  3. Renee Lertzman, PhD

    Thanks! Yes I also have adopted a fluid style of teaching pedagogy which involves far more co-production than is customary – which makes sense and is respectful – and makes intuitive sense. The first few days of class are always about engaging and learning what students’ concerns, needs are, then I can more effectively meet this …


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