This online lesson was created to give anyone the tools to create social value

The terms “social change” and “social norms” are somewhat generic terms that are hard to define. What is even harder is to actually enact social change and influence social norms. In an effort to empower ordinary people, University of Pennsylvania and UNICEF are coming together to launch a course that provides theoretical and practical knowledge on these subjects. The course is online and free for anyone to take.

The course itself only takes four weeks and those who have previously taken the course rate it with near-perfect marks. The first part of the course teaches students exactly what social norms and constructs are. By defining and understanding them, students are able to enact policy reforms to try encourage better social norms or eradicate harmful ones. The second part of the course delves deeper into what practical tools can be used to push for change. Additionally, the course teaches students on how to measure social norms and what causes behavioral changes. Issues covered in the course are human rights issues such as gender violence and sanitation issues.

At the end of the day, human rights issues cannot be solved purely by NGOs or outsiders stepping in to enforce change. Social norms within communities have to be shifted for permanent change. It is easy for citizens living in free democracies to misunderstand why some human rights issues remain pertinent in other parts of the world. Why are girls as young as ten years old allowed to get married? Why do so many people die from cholera? All of these are legitimate questions that must be addressed but these problems can only be alleviated through understanding and deliberate actions. The fight for human rights for all is far from over, even in this country. Therefore, all we can do as citizens of the world is learn and act to fight for lasting, positive social change.

University of Pennsylvania | UNICEF

Image: Shutterstock

The terms “social change” and “social norms” are somewhat generic terms that are hard to define. What is even harder is to actually enact social change and influence social norms. In an effort to empower ordinary people, University of Pennsylvania and UNICEF are coming together to launch a course that provides theoretical and practical knowledge on these subjects. The course is online and free for anyone to take.

The course itself only takes four weeks and those who have previously taken the course rate it with near-perfect marks. The first part of the course teaches students exactly what social norms and constructs are. By defining and understanding them, students are able to enact policy reforms to try encourage better social norms or eradicate harmful ones. The second part of the course delves deeper into what practical tools can be used to push for change. Additionally, the course teaches students on how to measure social norms and what causes behavioral changes. Issues covered in the course are human rights issues such as gender violence and sanitation issues.