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CECAN Annual Conference: Policy Evaluation for a Complex World

London, 11 Jul 2018, 9.30am

Policy Evaluation for a Complex World, The Challenges that Complexity Poses for Policy – Solutions and Benefits

11th July 2018, 9.30am to 3.45pm, One Birdcage Walk, Westminster, London, SW1H 9JJ

Event Overview:

The world is complex: it is made up of many different components which interact in messy, adaptive and unpredictable ways.

Complexity poses great challenges to policy-making and evaluation because complex systems are fundamentally unpredictable. Ignoring it brings the risk of making costly inadequate decisions and policies failing unexpectedly. Understanding and embracing complexity means exploring uncertainty with rigour and the possibility of effective policy-making.

CECAN’s annual conference will showcase the latest developments in this fast evolving area, bringing together leading researchers, policy-makers and practitioners to explore what complexity means for policy and evaluation, and how it can be dealt with effectively.

Our keynote speaker Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive, RSA will talk about the challenges of complexity for government.

Two panel sessions will discuss how well Government is dealing with complexity in policy making and evaluation, and what needs to happen to build capacity and enable better management of complexity in future.

Panel members will include: Penny Hawkins (Independent Evaluation Consultant), Gary Kass (Deputy Chief Scientist – Natural England) and Charlotte Allen, (Head of Central Social Research – DEFRA), Siobhan Campbell (Head of the Central Research Team, Deputy Chief Scientific Advisor, Department for Transport), Dione Hills (Principal Researcher – The Tavistock Institute),  Jonas Schönefeld (Technische Universität Darmstadt/UEA).

The benefits of ‘complexity-appropriate’ evaluation will be explored, including specific methods drawn from CECAN’s briefing note series and real world case studies carried out across Government. Presentations will include:

  • Evaluation of Complex Policy and Programmes: A CECAN module for future policy analysts and evaluators – The CECAN Syllabus in an hour!
  • CECAN and developing the Magenta Book Annex on dealing with complexity in evaluation – it’s complicated!
  • Making evaluation real: Qualitative comparative analysis and environmental policy.
  • Participatory systems mapping: exploring and negotiating complexity in evaluation with BEIS and Defra.
  • Where do I start in navigating complex evaluation methods? Developing and using the Choosing Appropriate Evaluation Methods Tool.
  • Finding Dynamic Patterns in Complex Social Systems.
  • Improving theories of change to address complexity
  • Putting values into evaluation

Concluding comments will come from Professor Eliott Stern and CECAN’s Director, Professor Nigel Gilbert.

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