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CECAN Webinar: The Practice of Blue Marble Evaluation

Online, 5 Oct 2021, 4pm BST
Michael Quinn Patton & Glenn G. Page

Tuesday 5th October 2021, 16:00 – 17:00 BST

Presenters: Michael Quinn Patton, Utilization Focused Evaluation & Glenn G. Page, SustainaMetrix/COBALT (Collaborative for Bioregional Action Learning & Transformation)

Webinar Overview:

The great acceleration of human activities over the past 10, 50, 100 years has changed the very nature of life support for all species who live together on this big “blue marble” we call planet Earth. As we navigate into the Anthropocene, with system-wide turbulence emerging all around us, we recognize the dire need for transformative change towards more just, equitable and regenerative futures. The first Nobel Prize Summit was held this year focusing on this dramatic challenge and concluded that “emerging technologies, social innovations, broader shifts in cultural repertoires, as well as a diverse portfolio of active stewardship of human actions in support of a resilient biosphere are highlighted as essential parts of such transformations”. In order to evaluate such transformations, the field of evaluation itself requires transformation. Blue Marble Evaluation as a core set of principles was launched in November 2019 with this urgent need in mind and today features a worldwide network of over 600 people who are learning how to practice Blue Marble evaluation. As a global network, we are bearing witness to, and participating in, a major turn in the story of humanity. Through a growing planetary awareness, we are the first generation to see the powerful strengths and life threatening costs of globalization driven by dominant economic paradigm of profit. There are no silver bullet solutions and simplistic linear logic models confound the problem. To confront this reality, we need to let go of mechanistic, narrowly focused theories of change and meaningless, fabricated SMART Goals. We must let go of the anachronistic, controlling, and compliance-driven results-based management and outdated evaluation criteria. To transform systems, such as global food systems, it will require dismantling and transforming this dysfunctional underlying development architecture. This presentation will focus on the practice of Blue Marble Evaluation by connecting diverse local contexts to global issues and trends.

For example, in preparation for the United Nations World Food Systems Summit Michael Quinn Patton will share results of how a global team of Blue Marble Evaluators are capturing and reporting the knowledge and voices of women who grow food, indigenous people who have worked their land for hundreds of years, smallholder farmers who feed their communities, and youth who are the future of agriculture. Through Blue Marble Evaluation, we put a spotlight on innovative ideas and practices while being diligent and thoughtful to integrate what is already working well. The World Food Program has documented that a child dies of hunger every 5 seconds. The COVID Pandemic has dramatically increased world hunger. To feed the world with nutritious food without damaging land and water requires food systems transformation worldwide. That’s where Blue Marble Evaluation comes in, examining how food systems can be transformed to eliminate hunger while saving the environment.

Glenn Page will emphasize how this work is applied to global hot-spots or “tipping elements” from the Amazon Rainforest to the Arctic Sea Ice that are central in regulating the state of the planet. He will illustrate how Blue Marble Evaluation emphasizes the concept of bioregionalism and the integrated nature of local to global (influence of chemical and physical compositions of the atmosphere, how biodiversity contributes to generating and maintaining soils, controlling pests, pollinating food crops, and the flow of biogeochemical cycles). He will illustrate examples of the practice of Blue Marble Evaluation and how it may be essential as our “hedge” against unanticipated ecosystem change that threatens the very life-support for our collective future on earth.

Presenter Biographies:

Michael Quinn Patton is the Founder and CEO of Utilization-Focused Evaluation, an independent organizational development and program evaluation organization. After receiving his doctorate in sociology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, he spent 18 years on the faculty of the University of Minnesota (1973-1991), including five years as Director of the Minnesota Center for Social Research and ten years with the Minnesota Extension Service. He has authored numerous books on evaluation, including Blue Marble Evaluation (2019), Principles-Focused Evaluation (2018), Facilitating Evaluation (2018), Developmental Evaluation (2010) and Utilization-Focused Evaluation (2008). He has also edited or contributed articles to numerous books and journals, including several volumes of New Directions in Program Evaluation, on subjects as diverse as culture and evaluation, how and why language matters, HIV/AIDS research and evaluation systems, extension methods, feminist evaluation, teaching using the case method, evaluating strategy, utilization of evaluation, and valuing. His creative nonfiction book, Grand Canyon Celebration: A Father–Son Journey of Discovery, was a finalist for Minnesota Book of the Year. Patton has received both the Alva and Gunnar Myrdal Award for “outstanding contributions to evaluation use and practice” and the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Award for lifetime contributions to evaluation theory awarded by the American Evaluation Association. The Society for Applied Sociology honored him with the 2001 Lester F. Ward Award for Outstanding Contributions to Applied Sociology. He was President of the American Evaluation Association in 1988 and Co-Chair of the 2005 International Evaluation Conference in Toronto sponsored jointly by the American and Canadian evaluation associations. He sits on the Editorial Advisory Board for The Foundation Review.

Glenn Page comes to Blue Marble Evaluation as a coastal/restoration ecologist. He “grew up” working on the restoration of dunes, rivers, wetlands and forests, focusing on on ecosystem function, equivalency and valuation, as well as public involvement and the essence of stewardship. He was the founding director of Conservation at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, where Vice President Gore officially recognized him as as Environmental Hero. Currently, he is the President/CEO of SustainaMetrix in Portland Maine, where he and a global network are “Navigating in the Anthropocene”. Glenn recently launched a global network called COBALT, the Collaborative for Bioregional Action Learning and Transformation that brings innovation and systems thinking to complex, messy, cross-scale, wicked challenges of our time. Co-author of The Analysis of Governance Responses to Ecosystem Change: A Handbook for Assembling a Baseline, this work is being integrated with the principles of Blue Marble Evaluation to create the world’s first Blue Marble Baselines. Partners include the Sacred Headwaters of he Amazon, Regenerate Costa Rica, COBALT Gulf of Maine/Iceland/Scotland & Ireland.

How to Join:

This talk will take place via a Zoom Webinar (registration now closed).

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. In case you are unable to attend, a recording of the webinar will be uploaded to our website following the event.

Link to Webinar Recording:

If you were unable to join the webinar, you can watch the session via our YouTube channel below. We are also pleased to be able to share a PDF version of the PowerPoint slides, please click here to view.

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