This article provides aspiring Blue Marble Evaluators with an alternative framework for thinking about professional development outside of “formal” and “scholarly” learning spaces. Particularly relevant in the context of the anthropocene, the article offers experiential learning in the field and within cultural contexts as a much-needed professional design component for developing responsive, effective, and transformative evaluators.
Full Abstract: The theory-to-practice loop is riddled with gaps, incongruencies, and, at times, trauma when it comes to the professional development and practice of evaluators. Our current system of professional development for evaluators systemically and institutionally reinforces racism, white privilege, and misogyny, thus re-creating harm and the barriers that so many BIPOC and LGBTQ2S evaluators are working hard to overcome. This article provides the reader with an alternative to the field’s valuing and learning evaluation within “institutions of higher education” and other “formal” and “scholarly” learning spaces. Rather, it provides for a balanced approach of experiential learning in the field and within cultural contexts as a much-needed professional design component for developing responsive, effective, and transformative evaluators. Praxis and experience should have at least equal value, merit, and worth for developing current and upcoming evaluators. When done correctly, wisdom to evaluative thinking, development, and practice happens, and not simply reinforcing and generating the same evaluative voices, constructs, and behaviours of the privileged evaluation patriarchy.
This paper investigates the role of evaluation commissioning in hindering the take-up of complexity-appropriate evaluation methods, using findings from interviews with 19 UK evaluation commissioners and contractors. We find, against a backdrop of a need to ‘do more with less’ and frustration with some traditional approaches, the commissioning process is perceived to hinder adoption of complexity-appropriate methods because of its inherent lack of time and flexibility, and assessment processes which struggle to compare methods fairly. Participants suggested a range of ways forward, including more scoping and dialogue in commissioning processes, more accommodation of uncertainty, fostering of demand from policy users, more robust business cases, and more radical overhauls of the commissioning process. Findings also emphasised the need to understand how the commissioning process interacts with the wider policy making environment and evidence culture, and how this manifests itself in different attitudes to risk in commissioning from different actors.
Fundamental systems transformations are needed to address the global emergency brought on by climate change and related global trends, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which, together, pose existential threats to the future of humanity. Transformation has become the clarion call on the global stage. Evaluating transformation requires criteria. The revised Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development/Development Assistance Committee criteria are adequate for business as usual summative and accountability evaluations but are inadequate for addressing major systems transformations. Six criteria for evaluating transformations are offered, discussed, and illustrated by applying them to the pandemic and the Global Alliance for the Future of Food. The suggested criteria illustrate possibilities. The criteria for judging any intervention should be developed in the context of and aligned with the purpose of a specific evaluation and information needs of primary intended users. This article concludes that the greatest danger for evaluators in times of turbulence is not the turbulence—it is to act with yesterday’s criteria.
This article explores the notion of the need to decolonize systems thinking and awareness. Taking a specifically Indigenous approach to both knowledge creation and knowledge sharing, the authors look at awareness based systems change via a Haudenosaunee (Mohawk) two row visual code. The authors explore the sacred space between Indigenous and non-Indigenous ways of thinking and knowing, to identify pathways for peaceful co-existence of epistemologies. Based on conversations with Haudenosaunee elders and Western systems thinkers, along with data from a DoTS webinar, they identify cross-cultural dialogues as a doorway to healing, to transformation and to spiritual understanding. A reconnection with Mother Earth and with each other is fundamental to disrupting global patterns of trauma and mass corrosion of the spirit.
Summary: Michael Quinn Patton’s Blue Marble Evaluation is a forward-looking, path-breaking, and timely contribution to evaluation theory and practice. The title of the book evokes the Blue Marble shot—a photograph of the whole earth taken by the Apollo 17 astronauts in 1972. The preface of the book displays the first image of our lonely planet captured from space in 1968 (Earthrise). It elicited the following comment by an Apollo 8 crew member: “We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.” This is the bracing perspective offered by Blue Marble Evaluation, an audacious publication designed to make evaluation truly matter in a world facing existential risks. Click here to read the full review.
Experts say human impact on Earth so profound that Holocene must give way to epoch defined by nuclear tests, plastic pollution and domesticated chicken. In this article, the author describes how the current epoch recently became known as the Anthropocene.
"Products derived from timber extracted by workers living in conditions analogous to slave labor in Brazil are connected to a complex business network linked to the United States market— possibly reaching the shelves of large retailers and being used in renovation of landmarks — according to a new investigation conducted by Brazilian news outlet Repórter Brasil." Read more
In this article, Bob Stake explores the idea of skin in the game and asserts that no two evaluators would likely produce the exact same evaluation design and report. He then suggests a new standard for the field that "Evaluators should be encouraged to “have a life” and to “have a dream” so their interpretations are enriched by personal experience."
American Journal of Evaluation - Volume: 25 issue: 1, page(s): 103-107
An investigation has revealed U.S.-based companies bought timber from Brazilian traders where loggers worked under slave labor conditions.