Learners will be able…
… to recognise and define (elements of) institutional change in terms of rules and expectations governing human interactions.
… to understand ways in which institutional change brings change to our society, and vice versa.
… to reflect on the importance of social equilibrium and its delicacy.


You need:

  • 40 minutes
  • At least 6 people
  • A soft unbreakable item (ball; alternatively a sheet of paper crumpled into a ball)
  • Enough space to move around


Instructions (Step-by-Step)

  • Divide the students into 3 groups. Each group must have a representative (the person who will be actively moving around).
  • Give instructions to each of the groups separately. Give each of the representatives a distinct starting point in the room and a distinct rule/pattern of movement (for example, one representative might only be able to move 3 steps forward, 1 step back, 3 steps forward, 1 step back; another might only be able to move putting one foot directly in front of the other, … be as creative as you would like to be with setting up the rules!)
  • Have the representatives take their place in the room. Tell them the objective of the activity is for them to pass the item (ball) from representative of group A to group B then group C and back to group A again at least 3 times in as short of time as possible.
  • While they are trying to complete the task, pull aside another team member from group A and give them a new, different rule on movement. After the representatives are done with their task, have the new representative of group A take place of the previous representative and ask them to repeat the task. The other learners should not know that there is a different set of rules representative of group A needs to follow. Have them try to repeat the task, once again, as quickly as possible.
  • While they are trying to complete the task, repeat the previous steps of new rules on movement for a new representative of group B and group C. In the next task, change two representatives.
  • Depending on how much time you have on hand, you can try to repeat these steps, in variation, to include all learners.
  • After this exercise, discuss with the learners:
    • How did they find the task? Were they able to complete it? Did they have any issues in performing together? How did they tackle those? Did they communicate with other team members? Did they communicate between the groups?
    • How did they respond to the change of representative/rules of movement? Was the change difficult to incorporate into the existing way of collaborating (e.g., if they had a plan on how and where one moves)? How did they perform in times of relative stability (e.g., second or third round of passing the item between themselves) in comparison to the process of change (when new movement was introduced)?
  • Slowly guide the learners to a discussion on institutional change. Institutional change explains the change of institutions considered as rules and expectations that govern human interactions and paths of development in society. Any particular set of institutions are embedded in a variety of other institutions; therefore, institutional change means increased uncertainty – long term consequences of even small changes are difficult to accurately predict due to this interconnectedness. Ask the learners about their experience with institutional change during the course of their lives.
    • How did they experience it?
    • How did they adapt to it?
    • Did they have ideas on how to make the transition easier