News

COMPLEX-IT and the SACS TOOLKIT: A Case-Based Computational Modeling Platform for Data Mining Complex Issues in Policy and Evaluation

Brian Castellani
 

CECAN hosted a bespoke training course on 7th July "COMPLEX-IT and the SACS TOOLKIT: A Case-Based Computational Modeling Platform for Data Mining Complex Issues in Policy and Evaluation".

The course was run by Professor Brian Castellani of Kent State University and we welcomed a diverse group of people working in social science, government and consultancy domains. It was extremely well received with many people excited about using the tool and helping to progress it further. A follow on course has already been arranged between Professor Castellani and Natural England.

The complex socio-technical arenas (nexus issues) that government seeks to improve (e.g., health, food, water, safety, infrastructure) are not driven by a single factor or consequence.  Instead, they are driven by multiple factors at multiple levels, which lead to different trends or outcomes for different areas/groups of people.

CECAN Seminar: "Learning Lessons from Practical Policy Evaluation: Reflecting on a Meta-Evaluation of UK/EU Policy and Practice Evaluations Across the Nexus."

Evaluation Seminar

CECAN recently held a seminar with Clare Twigger-Ross and Owen White from Collingwood Environmental Planning, which looked at the lessons learned from practical policy evaluation.

Numerous evaluations of natural environment policy and practice are commissioned by the UK and EU government in order to inform, develop and improve. 

Typically these evaluations are dealing with complex “wicked issues” where that which is being evaluated is likely to have impacts that can’t be easily measured within the time frame of the evaluation; difficulty in unpacking causality and to be operating in less than perfect policy cycles.

CEP has been carrying out these types of evaluations over the past decade and as part of the CECAN centre took time to analyse 23 of their evaluations to learn lessons specifically around the evaluation of complexity, the role of methods and the nature of evaluation impact.

This brought out the key factors that affect evaluation progress and enable some understanding of how to navigate an evaluation through dynamic policy landscapes  so as to provide value and insight. 

CECAN Attend UK Evaluation Society Conference

UKES Conference

CECAN exhibited at the UKES Conference on 10th-11th May with the primary goal of making strong connections in the evaluation community. It was an incredibly valuable two days spent absorbing information from evaluation experts, but also promoting the Centre and networking with enthusiastic people over future opportunities.

The theme of the conference was to explore the current uses of evaluation. Evaluation is a common term in the English language and means different things to different people. It is used in many different ways. The conference explored these issues and in particular how evaluation can become more useful to its commissioners, to the subjects of the evaluation, and to society more widely.

CECAN Seminar: "Theory of Change."

Theory of Change Seminar

CECAN hosted a seminar on Theory of Change and how best to design one, at St Martin-in-the-Fields on 16th May.

Our thanks go to Kerstin Junge and Richard Allen, both Principal Researchers and Consultants at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations for their enthusiasm in bringing TOC strategies to an audience hungry for answers!

If you missed the seminar you can access a recording of the slides/audio online (audio is unavoidably poor, so please turn up your speakers!)

CECAN Seminar: "Supporting Decision Making Under Deep Uncertainty."

Jan Kwakkel Seminar

CECAN would like to extend thanks to Jan Kwakkel, Associate Professor from the Delft University of Technology, who took time out of his busy schedule to deliver a seminar to a large group of civil servants working in nexus policy areas.

Jan described some of the work he has been doing on adaptive policy planning and exploratory modelling, using real life case studies of applying these methods to Dutch water planning and flood risk issues.

Football fans will enjoy his closing visual analogy of how his methods compare to the art of winning the big game!

You can watch the movie of his seminar below and accompanying slides are available to download here:

Learning Lessons From Past Interventions - Collingwood Environmental Planning

CECAN CEP Project

CEP over the last 10 years (2006-2016) has undertaken an extensive range of evaluations in the natural environment arena, e.g. for Defra, Environment Agency, Natural England, Research Councils, Scottish Government, European Commission, Natural Resources Wales, Cefas, OECD, etc.

These have all been published as publicly available documents, but core knowledge and learning on the delivery of these projects still resides within CEP staff. We have extensive experience of applying Magenta Book principles, among other approaches, and have managed and been involved in these projects over this significant timescale, and at a time when evaluation has risen up the political agenda as part of increasing accountability and value for money.