Americans are doing more to address economic, environmental and other social challenges, according to a new Walden University/Harris Interactive survey, which finds that more than nine in 10 (92 percent) Americans say they have taken action to engage in positive social change in the past year and that more than three-fourths (77 percent) say it is important to them personally to be involved in social change.
The Social Change Impact Report suggests that Americans have a strong belief in their own power to effect change with nearly nine in 10 adults (85 percent) agreeing that they can make the world a better place by their actions. More than half (52 percent) say they are most likely to personally get involved in social change in the future as individuals acting on their own or in informal groups.
When it comes to social change issues, education is the most important issue on American’s minds and will play a key role in the future of social change in more ways than one. According to the survey adults find education to be the most important social change issue (40 percent), followed by health issues (35 percent) and poverty issues (33 percent). Education will also remain at the forefront of social change issues in the future, with 63 percent of respondents stating it will be very important to address. Most adults believe that elementary, middle or high schools (80 percent) and colleges or universities (80 percent) will have the same or larger role in social change in the future.
The report also shows that digital technology empowers individuals to get involved in positive social change issues faster and more frequently than ever before. Nine in 10 adults (88 percent) agree that digital technology can turn interest in a cause into a movement more quickly than anything else. Four in five adults (81 percent) agree that digital technology has created a fundamental shift in how social change occurs.
Americans believe that digital technology enhances social change by making it easier to do many things, particularly following news and events related to social change (79 percent) and increasing awareness about social change issues or needs (77 percent). And a majority of adults (65 percent) says using social media to get involved is not just a fad.
Most adults believe the world will become more globally connected in the future, with 83 percent agreeing that the world’s economies, trade, competition and cultures will become more integrated. They also believe social change issues are both local and global, with 88 percent stating the best way to have an impact on the world is to make a change at the local level.
And while all generations of Americans are taking action on social change, the survey reveals that Baby Boomers (age 47–65) and Matures (age 66+) are the driving force of social change in America and are engaging at the highest levels. Members of the Mature and Baby Boomer Generations are more likely than those in Generation X (age 35–46) or Generation Y (age 18–34) to have participated in activities to engage in social change in the past 12 months (99 percent vs. 93 percent vs. 89 percent vs. 90 percent, respectively).