Elevating Change Series: An Introduction to the Social Change Model

Authored by: Jennifer Leung Associate Director of the Office of Student Leadership Development


As a young professional in grad school, I was first introduced to the Social Change Model as a foundation for how I do my work as a leadership educator and it has remained a constant throughout my professional journey.  I’m sure when you hear “models” and “foundations” when talking about leadership, it makes the leadership seem kind of abstract, but it’s really not.  In my opinion, it’s the Social Change Model that really makes leadership simple and approachable.  At its core, the Social Change Model is this:  Learn more about yourself, learn how to work with others and in community, and by leveraging that knowledge and partnerships, you can create positive change for the organizations and causes you care most about.

You may be wondering, what it is about this model that makes it so approachable…..there are several “key assumptions” about leadership that help shape the Social Change Model:

  • Leadership is collaborative
  • Leadership is a group process, not the authority of an individual
  • Leadership is based on values
  • Leadership can be practiced by anyone, it’s not reserved for the select few with titles or positions
  • Leadership is about change

The Social Change Model of Leadership Development was developed in 1996 by a group of leadership specialists with undergraduate students in mind.  In honor of the 20th anniversary of the Social Change Model, members of the Student Leadership Development staff will be posting about the various components of the model: Consciousness of Self, Congruence, Commitment, Collaboration, Common Purpose, Controversy with Civility, Citizenship, and Change.

This series also serves as a lead up to “Elevating Change: William & Mary Celebrates 20 Years of the Social Change Model.”  This event is a conference for student leaders who are interested in learning how to be more effective leaders and how to cultivate impactful change for the organizations and causes they care most about.  We hope you will join us for the conference on November 12th!  Please visit our website to learn more about the conference: http://www.wm.edu/offices/studentleadershipdevelopment/leadershipconference/index.php