12 October 2021
Meet the author – Helen Wilkinson and Alex Penn
Come and discuss with Helen and Alex, their Paper – ‘Building a system-based Theory of Change using Participatory Systems Mapping‘ at the Online Journal Club
Chair – Adam Cowland
The Journal Club gives you the opportunity to discuss with Helen and Alex:
- Why you might adopt a system-based Theory of Change
- Using theory of change to deal with complexity
- What is Participatory Systems Mapping and how you can use it to engage and empower stakeholders?
- How to recast a system map into a theory of change.
- System mapping software
Theory of Change diagrams are commonly used within evaluation. Due to their popularity and flexibility, Theories of Change can vary greatly, from the nuanced and nested, through to simplified and linear. We present a methodology for building genuinely holistic, complexity-appropriate, system-based Theory of Change diagrams, using Participatory Systems Mapping as a starting point. Participatory System Maps provide a general-purpose resource that can be used in many ways; however, knowing how to turn their complex view of a system into something actionable for evaluation purposes is difficult. The methodology outlined in this article gives this starting point and plots a path through from systems mapping to a Theory of Change evaluators can use. It allows evaluators to develop practical Theories of Change that take into account feedbacks, wider context and potential negative or unexpected outcomes. We use the example of the energy trilemma map presented elsewhere in this special issue to demonstrate.
Read the paper and join Helen and Alex at the Online Journal Club!
Wilkinson H, Hills D, Penn A, Barbrook-Johnson P. Building a system-based Theory of Change using Participatory Systems Mapping. Evaluation. 2021;27(1):80-101. doi:10.1177/1356389020980493
About the Authors
Helen Wilkinson is a Director of Risk Solutions and has worked for a wide range of public sector clients including Defra, BEIS, HSE and DfT. She is a member of the Executive Group of CECAN and was a co-author of the Supplementary Guide on Handling Complexity in Policy Evaluation that accompanies the 2020 revision of the UK Treasury ‘Magenta Book’.
Alex Penn is a complexity scientist and Senior Research Fellow and Co-Investigator at CECAN. She is the originator of CECAN’s participatory systems mapping method and has applied it in large-scale co-production processes for complexity-appropriate evaluation, policy design and system management with Defra, BEIS, DfT, the Environment Agency and in work with diverse local stakeholder groups. Projects include Future Farming and Countryside, The Marine Pioneer, Water Systems Governance, Energy Trilemma, Renewable Heat Incentive, Mobility as a Service, the Carbon-Covid-Air Quality Trilemma in rapid transport decarbonisation, Local Water Catchment Management River Derwent, Futures for Bio-based Economy in the Humber Region. She was a co-author of the Supplementary Guide on Handling Complexity in Policy Evaluation that accompanies the 2020 revision of the UK Treasury ‘Magenta Book’.
About the Chair
Adam Cowland is the Evaluation and Research Lead, Strategic Heat Interventions at BEIS.
Read the Paper and join the discussion with Helen, Alex, Adam, and fellow UK Evaluation Society Members.
This event is for members only, who can register here