This is an article written by Stephen McCloskey, director of Global Education Centre in Belfast and editor of Policy & Practice. The article draws on experience both from GCE practice and recent reports (by BOND and DEEEP) on challenges related to citizens’ engagement.

The article asks relevant questions about feasibility and sensibility of existing theories of change, especially given the short-term nature of work in the sector (3 year project cycles). The author argues that under pressure for scale, performance, efficiency and accountability (demanded by the funders), NGOs are coerced to engage in narrow-focused advocacy attempts and superficial awareness raising and educational attempts that fail to deepen public understanding of root problems of global issues.

This article was written in order to encourage deeper reflection and discussion in the field on the pitfalls and challenges of focusing on (unreflected) symptoms rather than roots causes of global problems.