CECAN Syllabus CPD Workshop: Participatory Systems Mapping


CECAN Syllabus

Participatory Systems Mapping

Thursday 31st January 2019, 10:00 - 17:00 (registration 09:30)

University of Surrey, Guildford, UK


Course Details:

This course is part of the CECAN Module for policy analysts and evaluators. The syllabus was developed to enhance skills nationally and internationally in the evaluation of complex policy and programmes.

Many issues in the social world involve the interaction of multiple factors from different domains which may be difficult to quantify. Often knowledge about an issue will be distributed between different types of stakeholders, who may not communicate meaningfully. Successful policy interventions or management in these circumstances require collaboratively-generated whole system understanding. This course will introduce the innovative systems mapping methodology being developed by researches in CECAN, which allows researchers to bring together diverse knowledge and stakeholders in order to construct shared causal maps of an issue or system. The course will introduce the theory behind and analytical approaches to systems maps, as well as providing practical training in map construction with significant time spent in hands on map construction and interrogation. Particular focus will be given to how these methods will be used in participatory approaches and how they contribute to policy appraisal and evaluation.


Intended Audience: 

Policy analysts, evaluation professionals and consultants



Those working in policy or evaluation (natural/social sciences)


Learning outcomes:

By the end of this session, students will have gained: 

  • An understanding of how participatory systems mapping contributes to understanding causality and interaction in complex systems; 
  • An understanding of the contexts in which it can be used and how it fits in relation to other social research methods and modelling approaches
  • The practical ability to construct, or facilitate the construction of, appropriate systems maps with a variety of stakeholders
  • Understanding of a range of analysis methods which can be deployed on maps as appropriate 
  • An ability to use these methods for informing policy development and evaluation design.


Presenter Biographies:

Alex Penn, Senior Research Fellow (University of Surrey): Alexandra Penn is a complexity scientist working on combining participatory methodologies and mathematical models to create tools for stakeholders to understand and “steer” their complex human ecosystems. As a research fellow at the University of Surrey she has developed participatory complexity science methodologies for decision makers to explore interdependencies between social, ecological, economic and political factors in “industrial ecosystems”; in particular, looking at the transition to bio-based economy in a region of heavy industry and fossil fuel energy generation in the Humber Estuary, UK. She is a principal member of the new “Centre for Evaluating Complexity across the Nexus” (energy-environment-food), CECAN, a collaboration between academics, policy professionals and the UK government to generate novel, cutting-edge methods for evaluating policy for complex systems.


Pete Barbrook-Johnson, UKRI Innovation Fellow and Research Fellow (University of Surrey): Pete is a UKRI Innovation Fellow and Research Fellow based at the University of Surrey and hosted by CECAN. He has over 8 years’ experience developing agent-based models, and uses a range of modelling and research methods in his applied research with government and industry, including agent-based modelling, participatory systems mapping, and qualitative and quantitative social research methods. His main research interests are located at the cross-roads of environmental policy, public health, social and behavioural science, and complexity science.



How to book - Reserve your place by registering and paying via the University of Surrey Online Shop.


Cost - £375 (Government / Commercial Sector) / £275 (Staff at Education / Charitable Institutions) / £175 (All Students).

Please click here for details of ESRC bursaries for training.

Prices per person inclusive of lunch, refreshments and training materials.


More information:

This course is currently open to all

Contact: cecan@surrey.ac.uk

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