About the Positive Deviance Initiative (PDI)

The Positive Deviance Initiative (PDI) is a network organization which is dedicated to amplifying the use of the Positive Deviance (PD) approach to enable communities worldwide to solve seemingly “intractable” problems which require behavioral and social change. By offering workshops, trainings, and convenings, as well as technical support and online resources, the PDI collaborates with many different organizations in various sectors to improve the lives of vulnerable people around the world.

To achieve its mission, The Positive Deviance Initiative offers the following services:

  • Workshops, seminars and training programs
  • Technical support for new applications of the PD approach
  • Convenings of regional forums and meetings
  • Support for research on the efficacy of the approach and evaluation of PD projects
  • A web-based community of practice, including information from PD Projects and resources

To read more about the mission of the PDI, please click here.

The work of the PDI is grounded in the belief that community transformation can be realized by the discovery of innovations and wisdom that already exist within a community.

As a network organization with a mission to amplify and disseminate the use of the PD approach, the foundation of our work is to connect organizations and communities which are either already using, or would like to use, the PD approach. This website has been designed by the PDI as a space in which organizations and communities are able to access resources, ask advice, and share results with other communities that are on the journey of using the PD approach.

After first applying the PD approach in Vietnam (link), co-founders Jerry and Monique Sternin began using the approach to address other seemingly intractable problems, such as female genital mutilation (FGM) in Egypt, and maternal health in Myanmar. After returning from oversees in 2001, Jerry and Monique began working as adjunct professors at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, while at the same time exploring applications of the PD approach to the U.S. healthcare system and creating a PD network in Argentina.

While the Sternins were teaching a course on Positive Deviance at Tufts University, an organizational framework began to develop, and by 2008 the Positive Deviance Initiative began to develop a full-time staff.

In October 2013, PDI moved from Tufts and became a program of Health Resources in Action (HRiA).

The PDI has collaborated with a variety of institutions including ministries of health and hospitals, corporations, foundations, local and international NGOs, UNICEF, Peace Corps, USAID, and the World Bank, among others.



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