Using social movement research to tackle the world's most pressing problems


About Social Change Lab

Social Change Lab conducts and disseminates social movement research to help solve the world’s most pressing problems. 


We seek to inform advocates, decision-makers and philanthropists on the best ways to accelerate positive social change.


We are an organisation that combines the ideas of Effective Altruism, a deep commitment to doing the most good with our available resources, with a practical understanding of how social movements operate.

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Image by Mika Baumeister

Our research

We have conducted some initial research that indicates that nonviolent protest might have been an extremely cost-effective way to reduce global carbon emissions, potentially outperforming current Effective Altruist recommendations. Subsequent research will be to answer the questions: Are protest movements a cost-effective intervention generally, and to what extent can we reliably predict which movements will be successful?

This question will be tackled from many different angles using a cluster-thinking approach, using a variety of research methods, seen below. Our research will also investigate other open questions, such as:

  • What are the most important factors that determine the success of a social movement?

  • To what extent do the effectiveness of protest organisations generalise to other globally pressing issues, such as animal welfare or existential risk reduction?

Research methods

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Literature reviews
Interviewing experts

Conducting literature reviews of existing political science and sociology research into protest and social movements.

Interviewing policymakers, academics and other experts to determine to what degree successful social change can be attributed to protest movements.

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Theory of change analysis
Natural experiments

Researching and possibly conducting natural experiments: times where external factors have created situations analogous to a "control" and "treatment" group - to better isolate the impacts of protest.

Understanding the causal pathways and mechanisms for which protest movements achieve social change, and examining the robustness of these pathways.


Meet the team

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James Ozden
Founder & Director

James has spent the last three years building effective social movements to tackle climate change and reduce animal suffering. From working on strategy for one of the most well-known social movement organisations in recent history, Extinction Rebellion, he's learned valuable lessons in designing effective movements. More recently, James completed the Charity Entrepreneurship Incubation Program on how to launch highly impactful nonprofits using Effective Altruist principles. 

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Sam Glover
Research Manager

Sam recently graduated from a Master’s degree in Democracy and Comparative Politics at UCL - his Master’s thesis involved using machine learning on Twitter data to establish how legislators react to Eurosceptic pressure in their constituency, and helped familiarise him with advanced quantitative methods. Sam recently joined Social Change Lab as a Research Manager, where he helps carry out our research and literature reviews on the effects of protest and social movements.

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