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Part 1 – Modelling the Coronavirus: Why All Public Health Models are Not the Same

Part 1 – Modelling the Coronavirus: Why All Public Health Models are Not the Same

In response to these advances, the current post is meant to be the first of several addressing the complex challenges of modelling the coronavirus as a public health issue. It is also about clarifying for a wider audience how and why such modelling is important, as well as the value and power of complex systems thinking and computational modelling for public health policy. Still, this does not mean modelling will answer all of our questions; nor does it mean that all models are equally useful! 

CECAN Contributes to Norway Anniversary Evaluation Conference

CECAN Contributes to Norway Anniversary Evaluation Conference

Picking up on the CECAN webinar last year on the topic ‘How to evaluate – or commission – an evaluation when everything is messy’, Dione Hills (Tavistock Institute and CECAN Associate) was asked to give a key note speech last month at the Norwegian Evaluation Conference.

Complexity and Evaluation Failure

Complexity and Evaluation Failure

People attending CECAN training and events often want to hear about evaluations that ‘failed’ because the wrong (i.e. not complexity appropriate) methods or approach were used. Providing such examples is not easy: accounts of evaluations that ‘fail’ are rarely published, and when we have examples from our own practice, confidentiality – or embarrassment – can make it hard to talk about these in public. 

Value, Values and Valuing Nature

Value, Values and Valuing Nature

Artists and academics and everyday people who care about the health of the planet have been doing the calculus for a long time. There is a new urgency to these calculations now, partly thanks to the School Strikes and Extinction Rebellion, and underpinned by a wave of action-oriented estimates about the state of the global ecosystem and its capacity to carry all life, including a human race projected to reach nearly 10 billion people by 2050 (UN 2017).

Slipping into Simplicity

Slipping into Simplicity

We and our colleagues often talk a good game when it comes to complexity. We want to understand nuance and context, and we know things are messier than we realise. Yet, we still struggle to grapple with complex issues and can feel frustrated with our lack of progress, or others’ seemingly foggy thinking.

How to Evaluate Complex Research Impact

How to Evaluate Complex Research Impact

We know research impact unfolds in complex and unpredictable ways, so how on earth do we learn from and evaluate it? In this blog, I will take a look at some of the approaches we have been developing and using in CECAN – a research centre set up to tackle the issue of complexity in evaluation. I will explain how you can use these approaches to do a quick and effective evaluation of complex research impacts, helping you understand what works and why. 

Complexity and Evaluative Thinking

Complexity and Evaluative Thinking

There has recently been an upsurge of interest in what constitutes ‘Evaluative Thinking’ (ET). One frequently quoted definition of this term (Buckley 2015) refers to ET being “critical thinking applied to contexts of evaluation”[i]. This blog reflects on ways in which ‘evaluative thinking’ and the application of an understanding of complexity to evaluation can be mutually supportive.

What has Economic Pluralism Got to Do With Understanding Complexity?

What has Economic Pluralism Got to Do With Understanding Complexity?

To understand the complex systems we inhabit, surely, we must recognise a plurality of perspectives. After all everyone gets a different view. However mainstream economists, the dominant social scientists, only accept one perspective on how economies work drowning out others.

The Story of the Pluralistic Evaluation Framework

The Story of the Pluralistic Evaluation Framework

The pluralistic evaluation framework is a new tool for policymakers that has gradually taken shape during the last 12 months of my CECAN fellowship. It is now ready to be presented at a webinar on 20 November, where I will be explaining the rationale in the space of 45 minutes. Here I want to share a little of the journey that it has been on, building on what I wrote here last January and June.

The Nexus: A New Approach to Sustainability Transformations – What, Why and How

The Nexus: A New Approach to Sustainability Transformations – What, Why and How

This blog reports on recent presentations and discussions held at the Royal Geographical Society annual conference in Cardiff, at a special session on adaptive management and governance of the food-energy-water-environment nexus. The session was jointly organised by researchers from CECAN and the James Hutton Institute.

A Pluralistic Evaluation Framework

A Pluralistic Evaluation Framework

I wrote at the start of this year about my work on articulating values in evaluation.  This has crystallised into a pluralistic evaluation framework, which I will shortly be presenting to policymakers from Defra and other agencies (in London on 12 June and in York on 3 July).  This workshop is intended to offer fresh ideas and a simple template to assist at all stages of the policy cycle – from appraisal and impact assessment through to full evaluation.

The Defiance of Global Commitment

The Defiance of Global Commitment

The following interview was between Phil Haynes (Professor of Public Policy, Brighton University) and Brian Castellani (Professor of Sociology, Kent State University) regarding Professor Castellani’s latest book, The Defiance of Global Commitment: A Complex Social Psychology, which is part of the series he edits, complexity in social science at Routledge. 

Looking Through a Glass Darkly: Public Goods and Agricultural Policy

Looking Through a Glass Darkly: Public Goods and Agricultural Policy

This blogpost highlights some of the points raised in a policy brief, New Directions: A public goods approach to agricultural policy post-Brexit. Following the Brexit referendum, the mantra “public monies for public goods” has been increasingly heard, especially in relation to agricultural and environmental policy.

Dynamic Pattern Synthesis for Modeling Complex Systems. An Interview with Phil Haynes

Dynamic Pattern Synthesis for Modeling Complex Systems. An Interview with Phil Haynes

Phil Haynes is Professor of Public Policy and researches and teaches public policy and management, as applied to a variety of contemporary circumstances. His research focuses on the application of complex systems theory, often using applied statistical methods. His research has been funded by the ESRC and the government and voluntary sector.

Finding The Common Ground

Finding The Common Ground

Along with several lead and co-authors, as part of a British Ecological Society Agricultural Ecology Group convened workshop held in December 2017, a report has been produced entitled “Finding the Common Ground”, which sets out an ecological perspective on how future agricultural policy should develop as a consequence, and in relation to, Brexit.

Carillion May Have Collapsed, But Public-Private Partnerships Can Be So Much More…

Carillion May Have Collapsed, But Public-Private Partnerships Can Be So Much More…

Last month, Carillion, one of the largest companies in the UK which regularly entered into contracts with government to deliver public infrastructure and services, went into liquidation. Since then, public-private partnerships (PPP), and their pantomime villain superstars – private finance initiatives (PFI) – have received an unprecedented level of criticism. The Guardian Opinion section – and my love-hate relationship with it – has gone into overdrive!

Teaching Evaluation of Complex Policy and Programmes

Teaching Evaluation of Complex Policy and Programmes

CECAN develops, tests and enhances methods to deal with complexity in policy evaluation, trying to advance research, policy and evaluation practice. To ensure that these methods will influence an ever widening audience, CECAN has now launched a syllabus for building capacity and supporting the application of complexity sensitive evaluation nationally and internationally.

Putting Values Back in Evaluation

Putting Values Back in Evaluation

Policy evaluation is about assessing the value of policies, but too little attention, it seems to me, is paid to the meaning of “value” in all this.  The English word “value”, of course, has multiple meanings that include numerical (e.g. “a parameter value”), economic (e.g. “good value”) and ethical (e.g. “a value judgment”). 

Building Collaborative Narratives and Developing Trust in Policy and its Evaluation

Building Collaborative Narratives and Developing Trust in Policy and its Evaluation

On the 23rd and 24th November 2017 members of the CECAN team, Pete Barbrook-Johnson, Clare Twigger-Ross and myself attended the EEEN conference in the beautiful surroundings of the Royal Society in Edinburgh. Facilitated by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), civil servants from environment agencies, consultants, practitioners and academics came together to share experiences and ideas for the future of environmental policy evaluation.

A Whole New World – What Next?

A Whole New World – What Next?

It’s been a month since we launched ‘A Whole New World: Funding and Commissioning in Complexity’ and the response has been incredible. Over 120 people came to the two launch events, and more than 1000 people read the report online in the first week. We’ve also started to have some excellent conversations about how to take this work forward.

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