Overall theme: Evaluation un-boxed

Evaluation can be a gift – with the potential to strengthen the lives of individuals and communities. This potential is best realised when evaluation is opened up to end users and when evaluators draw on the knowledge and practices of those they work with. Trans-disciplinary approaches and technological advances provide further possibilities. 

Join us to learn, create connections and shape the ever-evolving role of evaluation and evaluators.

What's in the box? – Using theory, creating value 

Evaluation can seem like a mystery. Ask evaluators and they will define it differently. One commonly referenced definition is the ‘judgement of the merit, worth or value’ of a thing. How else might we define it? And on what basis do we ‘value’? 

What does evaluation bring to the policy cycle that other disciplines do not? How can we draw on evaluation theory and methodology to enable evaluation to distinguish itself and offer something unique and useful? 

Who should hold the box? – Questioning power, exploring diversity 

Evaluators have knowledge to share, but also much to learn from the communities they engage with. 

How do communities develop ownership of evaluations? What does collaborative design and delivery really look like? How can Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and First Nations’ cultures and knowledge systems inform conceptions of evaluation and evaluative thinking? How can evaluators build on the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to make a difference for current and future generations?

What’s beyond the box? – Welcoming innovation, embracing disruption 

Evaluation has a rich tradition. It has also shared with and borrowed from other disciplines. Technological advances are rapidly disrupting traditional approaches – with the likes of big data and machine learning. What can evaluators learn from and offer designers, implementation scientists, social impact assessors, and behavioural and traditional economists?

What are the latest innovations in evaluation and where must evaluators look to next to avoid being left behind? 

How do we stack up? – Building skills, growing the profession 

The day-to-day work of an evaluator is challenging – with technical, interpersonal, cultural and political dimensions. In a world of rapid change, technological developments and shrinking political cycles, what are the skills and qualities evaluators must bring to the table? And how are we growing these through capacity building?

What are the pathways to evaluation in a trans-disciplinary environment? And what does this mean for ‘professionalisation’ of evaluation?