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Social Change Lab has two exciting opportunities for people passionate about social movements, animal advocacy and research to join our team!

Director (Maternity Cover)
We are looking for a strategic leader to join our team as interim Director. This role will be maternity cover for our current Director and will be a 12-month contract from July 2024. As Director, you would lead our small team in delivering cutting-edge research on the outcomes and strategies of the animal advocacy and climate movements and ensuring widespread communication of this work to key stakeholders.

Research and Communications Officer
We also have a potential opportunity for a Research and Communications Officer to join our team for 12 months. Please note this role is dependent on how hiring for our interim Director goes, as we will likely only hire one of these two roles.

Please see our Careers page for the full details of both roles and how to apply. If you have any questions about either role, please reach out to Mabli at mabli@socialchangelab.org

Mobius (the Bay Area-based family foundation where I work) is exploring new ways to remove animals from the food system. We're looking for a part-time Program Manager to help get more talented people who are knowledgable about farmed animal welfare and/or alternative proteins into US government roles. This entrepreneurial generalist would pilot a 3-6 month program to support promising students and early graduates with applying to and securing entry-level Congressional roles. We think success here could significantly improve thoughtful policymaking on farmed animal welfare and/or alternative proteins.  You can see more about the role here.

Key details on the role:

  • Application deadline:  Tuesday 28th of May, at 23:59pm PT. Apply here.
  • Contract: 15-20 hours per week for 3-6 months, with the possibility of extending.
  • Location: Remote in the US.
  • Salary: $29-38 per hour (equivalent to approx. $60,000-$80,000/year) depending on experience. For exceptional candidates, we’re happy to discuss higher compensation. This would be a contractor role, with no additional benefits.

Please share with potentially interested people!

One way I could see EA failing to win over broad parts of the public, or otherwise not having significant impact, is something I'm going to call media lock-in. 

What is media lock-in? A phenomenon where the mainstream media finds a sticky but unflattering meme of your social movement, and repeats it frequently in articles or communications about your cause. This can work to quickly turn-off people who might otherwise be interested in your issue, stunting your growth and long-term potential.

Examples of this outside of EA? Extinction Rebellion early-on got labelled as white and middle-class, and the media hammered this point home so much (1, 2, 3), it was almost as widely known as XR itself.

What could be the "white and middle-class" critique of EA? Well, besides it already being called white and middle class [1]- it's probably something about the association of EA  with elitism (1,2,3). This seems like something that has largely avoided the recent media push for WWOTF, which is certainly an impressive feat already, but still a potential cause for concern going forward. 

How do we avoid this? Not sure, but I can imagine the CEA/WWOTF comms team are already thinking about this! 

Some examples of things I've seen work well in practice is going very hard, early-on, about what you expect the most common critiques of your movement to be. For example, The Sunrise Movement did a pretty amazing job of mobilising outside of "the usual suspects" e.g.  non-white and non-middle class people into the climate movement in the US - what previous environmental groups didn't do very well. 

I think this was largely down to them pro-actively communicating, and having in all their core communications, that they were building a multi-racial and cross-class movement (1, 2, 3). This seemed to work quite well, despite the original founding team being majority white

What's the equivalent of this for EA? Well, it might be really pushing the idea that EA isn't about solidifying entrenched power/wealth, or making people richer, but actually about helping beings who can't otherwise help themselves. Really centring examples of people giving away a lot (a la GWWC), or otherwise being very selfless, might help to steer away from the elitist frame. There's plenty more that could be done I'm sure, but outside the scope of this Shortform post! 

Also interestingly, it seems that a lot of the backlash for XR came from other climate or progressive organisations, which was then amplified by less-friendly media. There might be a similar dynamic at play here, where EA is criticised by other people who are generally aiming at doing good, but these criticisms are amplified by less well-meaning actors. This makes me somewhat concerned about certain public criticisms (e.g. about diversity) but obviously they also play an important role in movement health.

 

  1. ^

    "Effective altruism has so far been a rather homogenous movement of middle-class white men fighting poverty through largely conventional means" - link

I want to make some Anki cards to learn/reinforce some important concepts, research findings & facts related to animal advocacy. Any recommendations for key facts, research outputs or concepts to include? E.g. things like how many animals are killed in China, components of the BCC, etc etc

I'd recommend something related to efficiency of creating food, such as how rice provides 11 million calories per acre, while pork produces only 3.5 million calories per acre. Of course other inputs than 'acre' could be used, such as how many pounds of plants are required to make one pound of chicken meat, or units of energy input, etc. Just something to emphasize/highlight the efficiency of growing plants for food compared with growing animals for food.

Hi James, did you make this?

No I didn't sadly - I started using Readwise instead to capture learnings from books & other mediums, as it's got better UX than Anki in my opinion. Still yet to make a good list of concepts/facts though so ideas welcome!

This deck includes some EAA-related numbers, which may be of interest.

I'm hiring for a new Director at Social Change Lab to lead our team! This is a hugely important role so if anyone is at all interested, I do encourage you to apply. Any questions, please feel free to reach out as well. 

-

Social Change Lab is a nonprofit conducting and disseminating social movement research to help solve the world’s most pressing problems. We’re looking for a Director to lead our small team in delivering cutting-edge research on the outcomes and strategies of social movements, and ensuring widespread communication of this work to key stakeholders. You would play a significant role in shaping our long-term strategy and the programs we want to deliver. See more information below, the full job description here and apply here.

  • Application deadline: 2nd of June, 23:59 BST. Candidates will be considered on a rolling basis so early applications are encouraged. Apply here.
  • Contract: Permanent, working 37.5 hours/week. 
  • Location: London or UK preferred, although fully remote or overseas applications will also be considered.
  • Salary: £48,000-£55,000/year dependent on experience. 

 

If anyone is interested or knows someone who might be a good fit, please share the job advert with them or let me know. You can also see some more context on the leadership change here.

Small request for help to measure the impact of an intervention we have planned:

 

In short, Animal Rebellion UK is planning a large protest/civil resistance action and I'm keen to try quantitatively and semi-rigorously measure the impact of this, budget permitting. We’re planning on doing an opinion poll (or another bit of market research) before and after our action, with roughly a cohort of 1000 people, to see if what we did actually managed to change public opinion around animal farming. I’ve never done something like this before but I’m sure there’s many people in EA who would have some tips on how to conduct this research in the best way possible. I think this research would be useful as there hasn’t been much quantitative or rigorous evidence on the impact of protests so I think it would be an interesting experiment generally.

 

My request: would anyone be interested in having a 30-min video call with me to offer some advice on the best ways to conduct this? Feel free to message me via the EA Forum or email me at james.ozden@hotmail.com. Thanks!

If you haven't already, make sure you check out Faunalytics' helpful resources on survey design. https://faunalytics.org/research-advice/

And yes, I'd be happy to have a quick call, assuming this is still relevant. You can pick a time here https://calendly.com/jamie-a-harris94/60min

I've seen surprisingly little talk about the Open Philanthropy Regranting Challenge here or on other EA discussions forums. In short, they want to give away $150 million to other foundations working on human health, economic development and climate change, to roughly double the grantmaking of other effective foundations. This seems interesting for several reasons:

  • It could be quite high leverage to find/recommend foundations that meet their criteria (e.g. they give over $10million/year)
  • It's the first case of an EA foundation doing this and generally this seems quite rare within the grant-making space. Seems like Open Phil is really embodying their principle of hits-based giving (as well as their commitment to learning/improving).
  • This seems to be the biggest / first major foray that Open Phil is making into climate change to my knowledge and I'm wondering what spurred this. Seems to be coming more from a global development standpoint based on the other focus areas, as opposed to an existential risk angle. Could have been influenced by the other major donor (see below).
  • It's the first time Open Phil has mentioned major donors besides Cari Tuna and Dustin Moskovitz, by saying that Lucinda Southworth was contributed to this too. Makes me think how many major donors of this size Open Phil is working with, and if it's now part of their strategy to find more billionaire-sized donors.

What do other people think of this? Any particular foundations that people would want Open Phil to consider strongly for this?

Maybe I'm nosy but I would be keen to see some (I'm not sure how many is appropriate) applications for the FTX Future Fund on the forum, either as a main post or in shortforms to not clog up the main feed. Specifically maybe things that could a) be megaprojects down the line or b) had applications for around $500,000-$1m+. We've had one already but I'm sure there's lots more very interesting ones out there.

We, Effective Environmentalism, are organising  more upcoming talks from those tackling climate change using an EA or EA-adjacent approach. We've got three quite exciting talks (one rescheduled from the last round) lined up over the next three months so if anyone is interested in learning more, do sign up below. You can also see previous talks on our YouTube Channel and sign up to our newsletter (+ see other ways to get involved) here.

Sunday, January 23rd, 6-7pm GMT - Good news on climate change + what is a worst case scenario? By Dr John Halstead from Forethought Foundation. Sign up here

In this talk, John will firstly discuss some good news on climate change: on current policy, emissions look set to be lower than once feared, as is the risk of very high climate sensitivity. Secondly, John will discuss a worst-case scenario in which we burn all of the fossil fuels: how many fossil fuels are there, how likely we are to burn them, how we might do so if we did, the warming that would produce, and what that might mean for life on Earth.

Saturday, February 5th, 6:30-7:30pm GMT - The role of carbon removal in achieving climate goals - by Noah Deich, President and co-founder of Carbon180. Sign up here.

During the presentation, Noah Deich, President and co-founder of Carbon180, will talk about the role for carbon removal in achieving our climate goals, what solutions hold the most promise, and how civil society can influence the necessary policy changes for bringing carbon removal to scale in a beneficial way.

Sunday, March 13th, 7-8pm GMT - Electricity production & use in decarbonisation scenarios - by Matthew Dahlhausen from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Sign up here.

This presentation will go over basic and intermediate energy literacy, covering the electric grid, building energy services, and challenges in full decarbonisation scenarios. It will address common misconceptions around energy and electricity consumption, as well as barriers to full decarbonisation.

 

We're always looking for new speakers so if you might be interested or have any suggestions for potentially interesting speakers, please comment below and let me know!

Social Change Lab is trying something new, and compiling interesting social movement-related research and news into a monthly (or so) digest. Check out the first edition here and sign up to receive future editions here. Feedback very much welcome!

[From my blog, Understanding Social Change]

I've just written a blog post summarising some of our recent research into the effectiveness of protest movements, plus some additional nuance and commentary that doesn’t fit neatly into external articles we recently published. Main things covered:

Social Change Lab is hosting a webinar on Monday 5th of June around our previous research that radical tactics can increase support for more moderate groups. If you want to hear more about our research, some slightly updated findings and ask questions, now is your time!

It’ll be on June 5th, 6-7pm BST and you can sign up here.

At Social Change Lab, we're conducting some research trying to understand the impacts of protest movements, to inform whether various EA cause areas (e.g. animal advocacy, biosecurity, climate, etc.) should utilise protest as an effective strategy for change. We're doing an informal survey to understand the current uncertainties EAs have around protest and what forms of evidence people find the most compelling, as this will inform our research priorities. 

So I would be very grateful if people would be up for completing this 2-3 minute survey on current attitudes and understanding of protest movements. Thank you!

Netherlands has just released a £21 billion plan to reduce the number of cows, chickens and pigs farmed in the Netherlands by 1/3rd (approximately 30 million animals) due to excess livestock emissions.

The article linked below also says there is similar concerns around ammonia/nitrogen pollution in Germany, Belgium and Denmark which *might* lead them to consider similar action.
 

Seems really great on the first glance but a few questions I have (in case anyone knows more about this or can speculate reasonably):

  • Will these animals be displaced to be grown somewhere else instead or is this due to some net reduction in demand in the Netherlands / Europe?
  • Will enough farmers exit / reduce intensive farming enough voluntarily to have the desired impact?
  • If not, will they try to make this mandatory? The farming lobby seems strong in most places, including Netherlands, but it seems they've done pretty well to get it this far
  • How easily could we replicate this in other countries? Seems like the UK is also on-track to overshoot ammonia emissions by 20%, amongst the other countries named above

[Junior or senior research role in the field of social movement research]

Social Change Lab is a new organisation conducting and disseminating social movement research to help solve the world’s most pressing problems. We’re looking for one researcher to help us tackle our first large project: Are nonviolent protests a cost-effective intervention, relative to other types of intervention, such as direct charity work or policy advocacy? 

We’re open to both early-stage and more experienced researchers. This exciting interdisciplinary project is one of the first attempts to rigorously quantify the impact of protests and understand how they can be used for positive social change. See more information below and a link to the application form: https://bit.ly/SCLResearcher

  • Application deadline: 7th of January, 2022 - 23:59 GMT. Candidates will be considered on a rolling basis so early applications are encouraged. Apply here.
  • Duration: 5 months, with the possibility of extension dependent on funding, working 37.5 hours/week. Latest start date: February 1st 2021 but an earlier start date is desirable. Exceptions might be considered for great candidates.
  • Salary: £30,000-£45,000/year pro-rata for the first five months depending on experience. Remuneration after the five month period is contingent on funding.

There was quite an interesting survey commissioned by YouGov in the UK on reasons for veganism/vegetarianism, as well as some questions around alternative proteins and eating insects. 

Key points:

  • Concern for animals seems to be the dominating reason for people going vegan and veggie, although environmental concerns are also high.
  • These reasons become broader after going vegan e.g. people develop a wider range of reasons for staying vegan compared to the original reason they went vegan (concern for the environment seems to rise the most).
  • Surprisingly, 23% of vegans purchase new fur products. I'm not really sure what to make of this as this is literally against the standard definition of veganism.
  • 35% of vegans and 42% of vegetarians think it's unacceptable for vegans and veggies to lab-grown meat. This seems really high and I'm not sure why people feel this way
  • 5% of vegans think its okay for vegans to eat insects, which seems much lower than the fur question but still a bit odd imo.

Why is there such a big disparity in focus areas between grassroots groups and NGOs/think-tanks? 

 

I’m thinking primarily in the two cause areas I’m most involved in: animal welfare and climate change. Animal Welfare NGOs focus a lot on corporate cage-free reforms (the EA ones anyway) whilst most grassroots groups are talking about ending factory farming, fur or individual vegan outreach. For climate, it’s even worse: Think-tanks recommend clean energy R&D and innovation whilst most grassroots groups often reject nuclear and other tech-focused solutions for nature-based solutions. Why are these differences so big (in these cases), how bad is it to not have a unified movement and what can be done about it?

 

Would like to write a bigger post about this at some point but initial thoughts to remedy this:

  • We incubate EA-aligned social movements/grassroots groups (currently writing a big post on this)
  • A 'middle-man' organisation to bring these different groups into the same room to try collaborate on shared campaigns? Probably very hard work.
  • Strategy workshops for grassroots groups and NGOs - more tractable and could lead to obvious shared goals. I can definitely seeing this helping grassroots groups who often don't think strategically (I feel justified in saying this after being involved for 4 years of grassroots work).
     

Disclaimer: There are some strategic grassroots groups out there and lots of variety in campaign demands across the two movements so this is definitely not representative of all groups.

I'm not very familiar with the grassroots, so maybe I'm way off.

I think some of the big effective animal adocacy groups started as grass roots, and then because they were judged to be cost-effective, they were recommended by ACE or funded by Open Phil until they became big and weren't really grassroots anymore.

  1. Maybe it's primarily because big funders don't value a lot of grassroots work (rightly or wrongly), and if they did, those orgs would professionalize and scale up.
  2. Or, some grassroots work is necessarily too low-scale (even if cost-effective) and it's not worth the effort to try to estimate its value. So, projects with greater scale will disproportionately be more well-funded.
  3. Or, maybe grassroots work, even on the same things in different regions, is more variable in cost-effectiveness because of less structure and different organizers in each region, or funders expect it to be. A fur campaign succeeding in one city might not tell you much about whether a fur campaign in another city will succeed if they share none of the same organizers.

The Humane League started as a grassroots group, has a large network of campus activists so still does grassroots work, and they support smaller groups with the Open Wing Alliance. I think they have done training for other groups, too. Maybe they're pretty unique this way, though?

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