The Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus

The Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN) has been transforming the practice of policy evaluation across the food, energy, water and environmental domains, to make it fit for a complex world. We have achieved this through pioneering, testing and promoting innovative policy evaluation approaches with UK Government departments.

We are also delivering a technical training programme, CPD courses, specialist workshops, publications, webinars and seminars to demonstrate the challenges of evaluation in real world situations. Our Fellowship Programme has provided opportunities for those from Government and industry to forge useful and lasting connections with researchers and for CECAN’s work to be informed by and linked closely to practical evaluation.

We will continue to refine complex appropriate evaluation methods in the nexus domains and apply them to public health, wellbeing, the local natural environment and enterprise domains in partnership with national, regional and local government, nongovernment funders and the third sector and expand our technical training, workshop, publication and webinar programmes, sharing our specialist knowledge and skills to further develop the capacity of those working on UK policy evaluation.

CECAN Ltd is the commercial arm of  CECAN. It delivers contracted  evaluation research and bespoke training courses. If you would like CECAN Ltd to undertake work for you, please contact


Complexity and Evaluation Failure

People attending CECAN training and events often want to hear about evaluations that ‘failed’ because the wrong (i.e. not complexity appropriate) methods or approach were used. Providing such examples is not easy: accounts of evaluations that ‘fail’ are rarely published, and when we have examples from our own practice, confidentiality – or embarrassment – can make it hard to talk about these in public. 

Value, Values and Valuing Nature

Artists and academics and everyday people who care about the health of the planet have been doing the calculus for a long time. There is a new urgency to these calculations now, partly thanks to the School Strikes and Extinction Rebellion, and underpinned by a wave of action-oriented estimates about the state of the global ecosystem and its capacity to carry all life, including a human race projected to reach nearly 10 billion people by 2050 (UN 2017).

Slipping into Simplicity

We and our colleagues often talk a good game when it comes to complexity. We want to understand nuance and context, and we know things are messier than we realise. Yet, we still struggle to grapple with complex issues and can feel frustrated with our lack of progress, or others’ seemingly foggy thinking.


Helping Health Services Plan for Covid-19

Between March and July 2020 Brian Castellani and Pete Barbrook-Johnson became part of the COVID-19 Community Health and Social Care Modelling Team at Durham University.


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