Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Jeff Unsicker


From hunger and forced displacement to climate change and global economic inequality, society today must contend with the compounding impacts of manmade crises threatening and reshaping our planet and livelihoods in real time. As states and transnational actors approach a new era of development, the role of civil society remains critical to push decision makers and governing bodies to be accountable, inclusive, just, progressive and rights focused.

Toward this end, a growing number of civil society organizations are acknowledging that states, citizens and civil society in the Global South must lead their own development path. This is catalyzing a significant shift among Northern based INGOs to become more geographically balanced. Oxfam is a global development and influencing network of organizations with a collective agenda to end poverty, inequality and injustice by speaking truth to power and empowering active citizens and effective states. The new One Oxfam model seeks to decenter the confederation’s leadership from the Global North to the Global South, consequently shifting the role of Northern affiliates.

The core of this capstone paper is a Meta Review of the evaluations for six of Oxfam’s policy advocacy and campaigning initiatives in 2015. The review frames nine key and common lessons and best practices. Through this capstone, the lessons are placed within the evolving global, development and new One Oxfam contexts, as well as emerging literature and core advocacy frameworks. The aim is to take stock of how Oxfam’s culture of learning can help inform a new approach to influencing within this new organizational model. Ultimately, the paper highlights the strengths and potential in Oxfam’s current ways of working and theories of change, while underpinning the need to address the organization’s historically Northern roots in order to become even more inclusive, upstream, impact-focused and strategic, and infuse even greater intentionality into doing that which is most effective and sustainable.


Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Policy History, Theory, and Methods