Thesis

VISUALIZING MY THESIS'S THEORY OF CHANGE

Last week, Michael approached me about my thesis work. He explained that he feels like he fits into my target audience but was often confused about what I meant when I said "action". I made a mental note to include "action" in my lexicon, but as we talked, I realized that what was actually unclear to him was the point of it all. His assumption was that I hope to get people into the street to protest and stop there. What good is it to get people engaged and protesting? He asked. That won't stop climate change. 

Michael's right that protest alone won't stop climate change, but what I had failed to make clear is that I don't think we should stop at protest. Eventually, I clarified what I was trying to do with my thesis work and he suggested (and I agreed) that I make sure to map it out visually in my presentation. a couple days later we were assigned to diagram the hardest part of our thesis to explain in our Thesis II class. Perfect timing.

My first attempt.

My first attempt.

Hoo boy. Where to begin? Visually, it's cluttered and hard to read, the triangles are distracting and miscommunicate their message, and there is almost no context or hierarchy. Also, it didn't help that I had not even considered what kind of diagram I was crafting when I made it. As I presented it in class I called it a flow diagram which seemed closest, but not quite right. Enter Julia, to save the day. She pointed out that it was really a theory of change map and by titling it that way I wouldn't have to deal with timescale since it would clearly be about the ideal impacts of the work in the future.

Take two:

A thesis ripple effect: water is life!

A thesis ripple effect: water is life!

This time around I left out the color which wasn't adding any information, used the water ripple design to communicate the sequence of events and centered my thesis work as the catalyst for the theory of change.

Karen Vellensky