Teaching and training

An important aspect of the Institute’s work is supporting the next generation of development practitioners through supervising PhD and Masters students, and teaching into postgraduate studies in International Development.

Institute staff and researchers teach into La Trobe’s Master of International Development Program, particularly on the two core subjects of Field Methods and Issues in International Development. Institute staff and researchers also give guest lectures in subjects such as Tools for fieldwork in the undergraduate international development degree.

Making Change Happen professional development program

The Institute is committed to building the skill set of professionals working towards social change. In 2016 and 2017, the Institute delivered The Making Change Happen Professional Development Program for NGO leaders in in partnership with the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID).

The ground-breaking Making Change Happen professional development program provided NGO leaders with the insights and tools needed to bring innovation to the development industry and lead the sector to a sustainable future. The joint program came about by recognising the need for NGOs to stay relevant in a fast-changing and complex world, where a new wave of digital-first organisations were challenging more traditional ways of conducting NGO business. Making Change Happen brought together learnings from La Trobe's Master of International Development along with insights from the course convenors who have many years of practical and consulting experience in the NGO sector. The Institute is exploring how this work might be continued and expanded in future through a blended learning approach.

Why the program was required

Within the context of a rapidly changing world, Making Change Happen asked:

  • What is the role of an International NGO in this changing world?
  • How does it add value?
  • How does it remain relevant?
  • What are the ‘business models’ that will allow NGOs to make an effective contribution?

What the program does

The course sought to equip the next generation of leaders in the sector with an expanded understanding of change to contribute to creating a cohort of people who can think about the health and effectiveness of themselves, their organisations and the sector all at the same time.

The first iteration of the course was made up of three units which were designed to:

  • Expand understanding about change and the complexity of the world.
  • Explore ways of effectively intervening in that world.
  • Share ideas about leading organisations in the face of uncertainty.

The specific objectives were to develop leaders who:

  • Will act as champions for development effectiveness both in their organisations and across the sector.
  • Have the knowledge and skills to design, implement and review effective inclusive development programs in complex settings.
  • Have the knowledge and skills to develop organisations in ways which are consistent with promoting transformational and inclusive change.

Course delivery

The course was delivered through methods including:

  • Presentations from course facilitators of learnings from literature and recent development practice.
  • Guest presenters.
  • Small group discussions and individual and group work on case studies.
  • Duncan Green’s book How Change Happens and the research of the Developmental Leadership Program and the Overseas Development Institute formed the backbone of the course and the readings provided to participants.
  • Mentoring was offered to participants who worked on specific case study projects relevant to their work between the face to face sessions.

Participant numbers

45 people participated across the three units of the first iteration of the course, from 26 Non-Government Organisations.

Outcomes of the program

100% of participants in units 1 and 2 and 88% in unit 3 agreed or strongly agreed that the Making Change Happen professional development program would assist them to contribute to a more effective Australian aid sector.

Through mentoring of participants, the facilitators observed how participants were applying the learning they had developed to real world projects they were implementing in their organisations. There were encouraging signs that some participants have indeed developed their knowledge and skills both in how they are approaching program management issues (the key objective of unit 2) and in organisational change processes (the key objective of unit 3).

100% of participants in units 1 and 2 and 94% in unit 2 agreed or strongly agreed that they felt enthusiastic about sharing their learning with others.

The future of the program

For the course to be run again the Institute will consider other options for how the course might be delivered and consider other audiences and funders willing to support the course.

We are considering how future iterations of the course could include more online or blended learning and/or remote delivery.