Assignment 1: Community Map and Theory of Change (2024)

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Key dates

  • assigned: 19.03.2024
  • interim presentation: 09.04.2024
  • submission: 28.05.2024, at 23:55 CET in the submission area (login required)
  • graded, 20% of course grade

Working and presentation template

Please prepare and present this assignment based on this PPT Template. It will also be available in your google working folder.

Scope of this assignment

In this first assignment you will present your analysis of the community and its challenges in the form of a community map. On the basis of identified needs and/or challenges you will apply the Theory of Change method for envisioning a desirable positive future.

On the basis of this assignment you can then move ahead towards creating innovation models, which will be covered in assignments 3 + 4.

What is a community?

Communities might share the same landscape, neighborhood, interests, language, values…or simply the same practice. There are various ways of identifying them. Sometimes, several communities are sharing the same context. Some communities are easy to communicate with, even if we come from outside. Other communities might be almost invisible, without any organization or forum, but they might be very relevant for understanding a local system and its context.

As part of this course you are introduced to a specific community context which is your framework of observation.

What are the goals of a community map?

  • It illustrates your own understanding of the community
  • It illustrates your group members understanding
  • It helps you to get a joint understanding within your team
  • It helps you to communicate your understanding of the community to the community
  • It allows the community to make corrections and additions, so that step-by-step a deeper understanding evolves.

Based on this community-based analysis you will arrive at indentifying key sustainability challenges.

What does a community map contain?

In principle, a community map is a graphical representation of any human-centered system context. You can produce a hand-drawn artefact or use digital tools for developing it. Hand-drawn maps are nice as they trigger fun and identification among the community members. Digital maps have the advantage of being easy to change and further develop. Please consider the community map as a tool and working document, which is constantly evolving. Therefore, a flexible representation method might be preferred.

Typical elements of a community map are the following:

  • Social groups from within the community, for example the youth, kids, students, parents, the retired etc. Typically, these groups have specific needs, which you can also make explicit on the map. These people might not be organized in any way, but they are usually present in the context you are observing
  • Local stakeholder groups: these groups are organized in one or the other way. They only exist within the community context you are observing. For example: the local community center, local churches, local interest groups, the landowners, small businesses and retailers
  • External stakeholder groups are not present in the environment you are observing, but they have stakes and interests. These can be local authorities, politicians, associations, care services etc.
  • For each group, you may identify their needs, objectives, power and capacities
  • If your community is linked to a physical location (i.e. neighborhood, village) you may also represent the local landscape context, cultural elements and other spatial characteristics
  • You may also identify gaps and power conflicts
  • Try not to represent these elements as separated from each other. What is the relationship between them? Are they close or distanced from each other? Who is more powerful? Which voices are hardly heard? Do they have any shared concerns?

Dealing with uncertainties

Of course, many of your thoughts will build on assumptions, especially at the beginning of your observations. This is OK as long as you make your assumptions explicit on your map. When you discuss your map in the community, you can try to find further evidence and clarify your assumptions. This is a great way of developing your community map iteratively. The community map is always a team product.

Theory of Change

Using Visioning Tools

Envisioning a Theory of Change (ToC) becomes necessary as soon as you and your community have identified a relevant local need (also called 'challenge') and a desired alternative future. In the context of this seminar, we understand the Theory of Change as a Visioning Tool.

The goal of the ToC is to develop the missing link between an identified problem and the long-term positive vision you would like to co-create. Working on the Theory of Change collaboratively is very useful. It helps aligning different interests and stakeholder groups towards shared goals and a collective vision of change. This is typically preceded by a process of clarifying priorities and possible wider benefits.

>>>For more information, please also check our seminar presentation on the Theory of Change

The Theory of Change Template

During our course, we will work with the Theory of Change Template developed by the DYI School. You can find a detailed explanation here:

You can practice with this template during the online class. The final version of your Theory of Change is developed in relation to the community context you are working on. The template for the Theory of Change is embedded in the overall assignment template.