Evaluation in a changing world

June 19 to 21, 2023; workshops on June 17 and 18; international sharing on June 22

Change is the only constant in our lives. Some changes come from macro transformations, such as the pandemic, social, technological, and climatic developments. Other micro-dimensional changes also influence our day-to-day evaluation practice, such as working remotely. In this context, evaluation values diversity and inclusiveness for sustainable and equitable development. So how do we make use of the innovation and lessons learned from the experience of the international evaluation community in order to benefit local interventions?

The objective of the 2023 conference, organized by the Canadian Evaluation Society in collaboration with the Société québécoise d’évaluation de programme, is to provide an opportunity to reflect on the state of the evaluation practice: where we are and what directions we should take in the future.

The theme “Evaluation in a Changing World” has four sub-themes.

Sub-theme 1: In the face of transformations, how should evaluation evolve?

Evaluation always takes place in a changing world. In a multicultural context where decision making is more crucial than ever, evaluation, as an assessment tool, does not escape questioning its determinants and issues. Multiple questions are raised, including one in particular: who benefits from evaluation, according to what values? How can we escape the steamroller of ideological and methodological normalization that is confused with a universally shared rationality? Should evaluation adopt new strategies to influence transformations?

Sub-theme 2: What is the contribution of evaluation in dealing with the complexity of change?

From the changing world emerge new fundamental, systemic, and complex concerns, such as climate change, sustainable development, gender equality, equity, diversity, inclusiveness, relations between human livelihood systems and natural environment. Several questions are asked. What can be the contribution of evaluation to understanding, apprehending, or even managing complexity? Can evaluation provide an opportunity to build, collaborate and cooperate in a complex world?

Sub-theme 3: How to respond to change by taking advantage of the plurality of evaluation practices?

There are many evaluation approaches out there. They can be applied to the macro, meso, and micro dimensions of change. The challenge is to master the approaches and tools that make it possible to identify and influence the evolution of ongoing transformations and their effects. The questions that merit consideration here are: What should change in the evaluation practice? What approaches and methods are more conducive to effecting a change? How should evaluation specialists integrate various approaches into their professional practices? What are the promising approaches?

Sub-theme 4: How to address the challenges facing professionalization?

In a context of perpetual change, the evaluation profession is facing transformation. As such, professionalization must consider the background of evaluation specialists, their geographical location, ethnicity and culture, education, language, gender, age, aptitude/disability and sector of employment. Relevant questions are: What are the challenges of professionalization? What changes are needed to make the profession more inclusive and successful? Does the complexity of the environment support the need for professionalization? How can we support the capacity of national and provincial evaluation systems in face of the accelerating change?