Joanna Boehnert Joins us as a CECAN Fellow

Joanna Boehnert

We are pleased to introduce a new member of the CECAN team. Joanna Boehnert joins us as a CECAN Fellow

CECAN Fellowship: The Visual Representation of Complex Systems: A Typology of Visual Codes for Systemic Relations

Mentors: Alex PennPete Barbrook-JohnsonMartha Bicket                     

This fellowship responds to a CECAN call for proposals on the visual representation of key features of complex systems. The practice-based research project will use systems oriented design and knowledge visualisation approaches to enable the identification, classification and design of visual codes to represent complexity.

CECAN Seminar: "The Use of Dependency Modelling to Support Evaluation in Complex Environments."

UKES Conference

CECAN hosted a seminar at BEIS on 11th July, with Helen Wilkinson of Risk Solutions and Harry Walton of the Environment Agency talking about the use of dependency modelling to support evaluation in complex environments.

In particular the focus was on the work that Risk Solutions and the EA have been doing together on understanding and quantifying the value of flood risk management activities.

The ‘theory of change’ evaluation strategy (described in the Magenta book) was developed to help tackle evaluation of complex multi-level, multi-intervention initiatives. 

Elements of theory of change mapping are now widely used to both plan and evaluate new initiatives. However, the approach has been criticized for being too ‘linear’ to effectively reflect the complexity inherent in many programmes or situations.  

Dependency modelling provides one way of meeting this challenge.

Risk Solutions worked with the Environment Agency to develop and quantify a dependency model to evaluate the contribution of the different types of flood risk management activity the Environment Agency engage in on the achievement of outcomes. 

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.