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


How to Evaluate Complex Research Impact

We know research impact unfolds in complex and unpredictable ways, so how on earth do we learn from and evaluate it? In this blog, I will take a look at some of the approaches we have been developing and using in CECAN – a research centre set up to tackle the issue of complexity in evaluation. I will explain how you can use these approaches to do a quick and effective evaluation of complex research impacts, helping you understand what works and why. 

Complexity and Evaluative Thinking

There has recently been an upsurge of interest in what constitutes ‘Evaluative Thinking’ (ET). One frequently quoted definition of this term (Buckley 2015) refers to ET being “critical thinking applied to contexts of evaluation”[i]. This blog reflects on ways in which ‘evaluative thinking’ and the application of an understanding of complexity to evaluation can be mutually supportive.

What has Economic Pluralism Got to Do With Understanding Complexity?

To understand the complex systems we inhabit, surely, we must recognise a plurality of perspectives. After all everyone gets a different view. However mainstream economists, the dominant social scientists, only accept one perspective on how economies work drowning out others.



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