Most of the research I am currently involved in, and that which I encourage my students to pursue, aims not just at information collection and analysis but also at social change.
I often encounter the assumption that changing people’s perceptions or giving them new knowledge will change their actions. If we could just get people to think right social change would naturally follow. While that can and does happen the discontinuous change of the contemporary world means that any approach to social change must have the ability to adapt to the changes in its context. Furthermore, a knowledge based approach assumes that we know what we need to know before getting involved in the context.
It is for this reason that I advocate action research and its personal compatriot action learning.
Craig Van Gelder does a good job explaining action learning and why it is important for social change today: