Changing Lives, Changing Society

Issue date: 04 July 2012


This year's inspiring conference from ISHE brought together a wide range of professionals, policy makers and academics to debate how we can support the widespread transition to healthy and sustainable behaviours. Over a hundred people attended on 28 June to hear a range of excellent presentations and work togther to explore new approaches to encouraging sustainable behaviour.

  • Professor Mike Kelly of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence kicked off the day with a thought-provoking introduction to the multiple influences on behaviours and sets of behaviours at population and individual levels which can determine the success or otherwise of change initiatives to improve public health outcomes.
  • Michael Sanders, of the Cabinet Office's Behavioural Insights Team, then introduced the concept of 'MINDSPACE' (which stands for Messenger, Incentives, Norms, Defaults, Salience, Priming, Affect, Commitment and Ego) – an approach to examining different motivators for change.
  • Professor Elizabeth Shove of Lancaster University then took the audience into areas of social theory to consider how social practices such as cycling or bathing have evolved, introducing the '3 elements' approach (materials, competences and meanings) to exploring behaviours and practice.

The audience then split into workshop groups to consider how the '3 elements' and 'MINDSPACE' approaches might work in practice when addressing a range of healthy and sustainable behaviours relating to travel, energy, built environment, economics and public health. There was a real buzz in the groups as they grappled with the approaches and issues which continued over lunch with the dense and colourful sheets resulting from the each of workshops available for further study.

In the afternoon,

  • Dr Tim Chatterton of the University of the West of England, Bristol drew on work that he is undertaking with a range of national government departments to help them incorporate sociological perspectives on behaviour into policy development, challenging government to rethink its approach to exerting influence on society.
  • Professor Gabriel Scally, Former Director of Public Health, NHS South of England, considered attempts in the South West to produce public health related change and the external factors supporting or inhibiting change.
  • Dr. Tom Crompton, WWF-UK rounded off the afternoon's speakers by considering motivators for change and the underlying cultural shift needed to move value systems in order to really tackle the sustainability challenges being faced.

The final panel debate brought the day to a close with some great questions and audience interaction which gave everyone plenty to think about and provoked more debate beyond the formal business of the day.

Feedback from delegates reinforced the feeling of inspiration:

“I'm so pleased I came as I feel I've taken much away from it – it's broadened my awareness and opened me to new ways of considering behavioural change”

“the speakers were diverse, all engaging and challenging…”

“all excellent - a good mix that needed all viewpoints to achieve overall impact – surpassed my expectations by far”

To view the presentations click on Changing Lives, Changing Society

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