I have been lucky enough to work in education and public health for over 30 years. I started out as a teacher, became a principal, a curriculum lead, started my own school, coached others on starting their own school, coached a country in improving their curriculum and teaching, wrote curricula, guidebooks, textbooks, toolkits and books on how to build capacity and how to essentially improve the lives of children, students, teachers, families and their communities. Wow. In all that work, I saw this common thread of behaviour change. This common thread of what makes for a good tool, a strong methodology or the right approach. It all kept coming back to listening to the problems presented from across a range of voices and working with those same affected people to define and implement solutions that they came up with and helped them implement them. It all kept coming back to using evidence-based theories of behaviour change to ensure we were addressing the right target, the right motivators and the right barriers to arrive at the most appropriate behaviour change interventions. It all kept coming back to the levels of influence that most affects change - be it a change in a behaviour or a change in an attitude or mindset, I was seeing repeatedly how we as humans work and how the science was there to show us how to tweak the system to help people in making healthier options.
Now, I am no magician nor am I a mindreader. What I am is a social scientist who is fascinated by people. I can sit and ask questions and listen to people talk endlessly, I can people watch all day. The study of behaviour change is so essential to all that I do that I forget sometimes that most people don't know how the intricacies of behaviour change theory or how to use it to improve a process, change a mind, save a life. In education and health, I saw the magic of applying behaviour change to everyday issues and problems to come up with a result that is more likely to work. In my work with the Red Cross and Red Crescent, we applied behaviour change to address deep-seated problems like poor handwashing technique, stigmas around menstrual hygiene, to effectively address vaccine hesitancy, even pinpointing the social determinants that contribute to racism, sexism, ageism, xenophobia and using behaviour change to address those issues. Maybe it is magic after all.
But there are teachers who are leading the charge through constantly teaching and learning about behaviour change and conducting research to keep us informed. Researchers like Lisa Moussaoui from University of Geneva, Hans Mosler at RANAS, Gerjo Kok and Gjalt-Jorn from Maastricht University and Open Universiteit Netherlands, Susan Michie from UCL are just a few of the rockstars who are leading the charge for building a behaviour change evidence base. This site will not only make space to find their research, but will help to translate it into accessible and readable formats to allow users to incorporate the work into their own interventions.
Yes, this is a big promise, but one which we are pretty excited to build. Our site will be developed, tested and rolled over the coming months. Sign up for our mailing list to join us on our journey and be notified of key updates. It's going to be an amazing ride.