Evaluation for Transformative Change

with Michael Quinn Paton & Mark Cabaj. Brought to you by CFI in partnership with Tamarack Institute (Canada)

Transforming evaluation for evaluating transformation examines the contributions that evaluation can make to addressing crises like the coronavirus pandemic, the global climate emergency, and related threats to human survival looming large in Earth’s future.

Humankind has moved into a new epoch called the Anthropocene: The era of human impact on the future of the Earth. The stability, sustainability, and resilience of the Earth’s systems, both natural and human, are now at risk due to cumulative negative human actions. Two conclusions characterize our times:

  1. Humanity’s use of the Earth’s resources for both production and consumption is unsustainable.
  2. Transformation globally is urgently required to avoid catastrophe.

The Coronavirus Pandemic has provided a glimpse into the magnitude of changes set in motion by a global emergency. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (2020), among many others, has warned consistently throughout the pandemic that climate change looms over the world as a larger, more far-reaching global emergency for which Covid-19 has been but a dress rehearsal, an early warning of what lies ahead at greater magnitude though slower manifestation.

The UN Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change issued in 2018 identifies the year 2030 as roughly the time when global warming reaches an irreversible tipping point. These conclusions about the scope and nature of humanity’s global emergencies has led to calls for urgent and major global systems transformation.

Who is it for?

This workshop series is for you if you’re concerned about addressing transformational change in the face of the global crises brought on by climate change and related threats to the survival of humanity. This includes:

  • Evaluators who want to help rather than hinder transformative change processes;
  • Designers of transformative interventions who would like to learn about some of the best thinking on how transformative change happens;
  • Policy makers concerned about the future;
  • Researchers studying global trends;
  • Funders of transformative initiatives and evaluation of those initiatives;
  • Students desiring to prepare for the sustainability challenges of the future.

When?

This workshop featuring Michael Quinn Patton will examine the implications for evaluation over four sessions

Times TBC

Tuesday 12th October
Thursday 14th October
Tuesday 19th October
Thursday 21st October

What will I learn?

The three questions this workshop addresses are:

Transformation – What is it? How to do it? How to evaluate it?

This applies beyond climate change mitigation and the global pandemic to related problems of food security, agricultural transformation, equity issues, governance transformations, and the connections between local and global changes. The premise is that evaluation must be transformed if it is to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Traditional project and program evaluation won’t suffice to address transformational systems changes across sectors on a global scale. Indeed, traditional approaches to project and program evaluation can create barriers to transformative change.

We’ll look at examples of transformative initiatives and their evaluations, or lack thereof. In so doing, we will distinguish a theory of transformation from a theory of change. This series will offer principles for global systems transformation as a framework for assessing the likely adequacy of an initiative or intervention to be transformative.

Given that transformational changes are multi-faceted and occur in complex dynamic systems, traditional evaluation concerns about attribution, effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability have to be reframed. For example, systems transformation is different from program outcomes — different in the degree of change, the nature of change, the pace of change, the direction of change, the scale of change, the interconnectedness of change, and the implications for sustainability and systems resilience.

Evaluating transformation requires new ways of conceptualizing and conducting evaluations. That is the focus of this workshop.

Michael Quinn Patton

Michael Quinn Patton is an independent organizational development and evaluation consultant. He is former president of the American Evaluation Association, and the author of five evaluation books including fourth editions of Utilization-Focused Evaluation (2008) and Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods (2015). These books have been used in over 500 universities worldwide. He is also author of Creative Evaluation (1987), Practical Evaluation (1982) and Culture and Evaluation (1985). He has co-authored a book on the dynamics of social innovation with two Canadians drawing on complexity theory and systems thinking: Getting to Maybe: How the World is Changed (Random House, 2006). That led to his book, Developmental Evaluation: Applying Complexity Concepts to Enhance Innovation and Use (Guilford Press, 2011). He also authored Essentials of Utilization-Focused Evaluation (2012). His latest books are Developmental Evaluation Exemplars: Principles in Practice (2016) and Principles-Focused Evaluation (2016).
After receiving his doctorate in sociology from the University of Wisconsin, he spent 18 years on the faculty of the University of Minnesota (1973-1991), including five years as director of the Minnesota Center for Social Research and 10 years with the Minnesota Extension Service. He received the university's Morse Amoco Award for outstanding teaching. He also served as a faculty member with the Union Institute & University for 16 years.
Michael has worked with organizations and programs at the international, national, state and local levels, and with philanthropic, not-for-profit, private sector and government programs. He uses a variety of evaluation and research methods, with special focus on mixed-methods designs and analysis.

Learn more about Michael: https://www.utilization-focusedevaluation.org/our-team

Mark Cabaj

Mark is President of the consulting company From Here to There and an Associate of Tamarack - An Institute for Community Engagement. Mark has first-hand knowledge of using evaluation as a policy maker, philanthropist, and activist, and has played a big role in promoting the merging practice of developmental evaluation in Canada.

While studying the Solidarity movement in Krakow, Poland, in mid-1989, Mark experienced a variety of tumultuous events that signalled the end of communism in Eastern Europe. He stayed to experience the rebirth of the region and worked as an Investment Advisor in Poland's Foreign Investment Agency, the Foreign Assistance Coordinator for Grants in the new Ministry of Privatization, and the Mission Coordinator for the creation of the United Nations Development Program's first regional economic development initiative in Eastern Europe. Upon return to Canada, he was an Executive Director of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network, part of the founding team of the Tamarack Institute, Executive Director of Vibrant Communities Canada. He now runs Here to There Consulting, a consultancy that specializes in strategy, learning and evaluation for efforts to tackle complex challenges.

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