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Tuesday, August 4 • 16:00 - 18:00
Systems Thinking for Evaluating in the Anthropocene

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The broad aim of this workshop is to provide some better preparation amongst systems thinking practitioners for opportunities of engaging with other professional fields of relevant practice.  The specific purpose is to enable systems practitioners to better understand contemporary challenges of evaluation through a brief systemic inquiry into alternative models of evaluation praxis.

Workshop participants will: 

gain a better understanding of what helps and hinders the uptake of systems thinking and complexity ideas amongst evaluators and commissioners, programme managers,  and policy makers;

acquire some practical experience in using a CSH-lite approach into ideal modelling;

understand the potential contribution of evaluation approaches in their systems practice

develop an initial platform for further exploration of purposeful systemic evaluation. 

Evaluation is the systematic, evidence-based assessment of the value, worth, merit and significance of a project, program, design or any form of intervention.  Evaluation is increasingly recognised as professionalised practise to support the implementation and development of policies, programmes and projects.   Over the past fifty years it has become an established craft; with 106 national associations of practitioners, with combined membership of many tens of thousands. 

Many evaluators,  policy makers and commissioners  particularly in domains of sustainable development and climate change acknowledge that ‘systems approaches’ and ‘recognition of complexity’ are needed.  Indeed to some extent ‘systems’ and ‘complexity’ have been anointed as the next big thing in evaluation.  Despite this, there is still limited actionable understanding of what that thing is, what to do with it, and – most importantly - what the implications are for evaluators and other stakeholders.

The three co-authors/ facilitators of the workshop have each had over ten years experience in working with evaluators promoting systems thinking in practice.  The workshop builds on these experiences, alongside those of workshop participants, in line with some findings from a small action research programme undertaken in the past year by the co-authors entitled ‘Helps and Hinders’. The research has been undertaken with members of the American Evaluation Association (AEA) and the European Evaluation Society (EES) as well as other national and local evaluation professional bodies, to explore what helps with, and what hinders , the uptake of systems thinking and complexity ideas in evaluation practise.

Using these findings as a platform, the workshop design is based on a light-touch application of critical systems heuristics (what we call CSH-lite); a process of ideal design modelling capturing core influences of human systems intervention including (i) values, (ii) power, (iii) knowledge, and (iv) social legitimacy.  The workshop deliberations are orchestrated around an interactive mix of plenary discussion and mini-presentation, and small-group work modelling exercises.  After a short briefing on the helps and hinders research findings, participants will develop simple ideal models of better systemic evaluation based on conversations around (i) impact (cf. values), (ii) decision making (cf. power), and (iii) appropriate forms of know-how and expertise (cf. knowledge).  These group models are shared at plenary.  A final plenary conversation will explore the fourth dimension of  this CSH-lite enquiry - (iv) opportunities and challenges (‘helps and hinders’)  with implementing the idealised model (s) in the real world (cf. issues of social legitimacy). The discussion will explore ways in which to counter prevailing mindsets and politics that may impede systemic evaluation.

A maximum number of 40 participants is recommended for this workshop.  Prior registration on the workshop is strongly recommended in order to avoid disappointment.


avatar for Richard Hummelbrunner

Richard Hummelbrunner

Senior Associate, OEAR Regionalberatung
In the past Richard Hummelbrunner has worked extensively as practitioner and advisor in the field of regional policy at various levels (local, national, EU, international development).During recent years Richard’s interest has shifted to evaluation, and has gained extensive experience... Read More →
avatar for Martin Reynolds

Martin Reynolds

Senior Lecturer, The Open University
Systems Thinking in Practice Postgraduate Qualifications Director Distance learning Developmental Evaluation ISSS Regular Environmental responsibility
avatar for Bob Williams

Bob Williams

Independent Consultant, Bob Williams
Independent consultant evaluator, based in New Zealand and holder of the current 2014 -15 Lazarsfeld Evaluation Theory Award from the American Evaluation Association. Has worked for the past few years on ways to make the systems and evaluation fields more attractive to each other... Read More →

Tuesday August 4, 2015 16:00 - 18:00 CEST
Copenhagen 2 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

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