Summary Report - CECAN International Symposium on Complexity Approaches to Evaluate Global Nexus Policy Challenges
On the 9th and 10th November 2017 CECAN proudly hosted a two-day International Symposium at Barnett Hill in Surrey, UK. The event was part of the Economic Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science and brought together national and international academics, practitioners and policymakers involved in policy evaluation to explore how complexity approaches can and are being used to evaluate and reframe policies in the nexus.
The Symposium offered a unique opportunity for key figures in the international evaluation community to come together and share their expertise and experiences whilst highlighting some of the latest methodological insights, best practice, and evaluation approaches for addressing complex nexus issues.
Late last year, a new CECAN syllabus was put together, as a training module for policy analysts and evaluators.The syllabus outlines 10, two hour sessions, which can be incorporated into a broader post graduate programme.
In development studies, one wants an evaluation team to face up to the challenge of combining surveys with semi-structured interview data. In this seminar, Wendy explained and demonstrated how these linkages are made with concrete data about villages in Bangladesh and India. The problem is that complex data can overwhelm the interpreting team. The solutions offered by Wendy are methodologically sound.
Professionals in evaluation pay a lot of attention to how to evaluate. We are less thoughtful about exactly what to evaluate, why, and how we define ‘success’. Stakeholders’ interests and questions tend to determine what will be useful to focus on at a particular point in time. Or we use a predetermined set of criteria, usually the so-called DAC criteria - relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability - to direct and focus evaluations. Yet this widely accepted practice can prompt us to neglect important issues that should be on our agenda if we are serious about the role of evaluation in supporting sustainable development, and understanding whether we are on track to achieve the SDGs. Failure to focus our evaluations appropriately can lull us into dangerous complacency about accomplishment and success.