September 17, 2021

Round Table Exchanges – Evaluative practice fit for the future

A new series from the UK Evaluation Society to discuss and promote evaluative practice which can address major challenges of our time.


The debate about evaluative practice is pressing and changing in nature. In the various evaluation fora and in debates within national evaluation societies everywhere, there has been a discernable movement toward reconsidering and potentially repositioning evaluative thinking and practice in terms of its role, and its contribution to understanding and addressing major challenges of our time at local as well as global levels.  Indeed, should evaluation look to the future, as well as the past?   The debate is effectively a re-look at evaluation itself.

There are many reasons for this shift – which, some say, may be long overdue. The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we live and work. Traditional forms of scientific enquiry and certainty no longer command the trust and belief once taken as given, the potent and overwhelming problems associated with climate change, imbalances both within and between countries in the distribution of resources and power, food insecurity and endemic poverty are more prevalent than ever.  It is important to make sense of what we see and to provide meaningful, evidenced findings which can relate the particular to the bigger picture.   Wherever we are located, whether we deal with domestic or international agendas, programmes or policies, we need to exercise evaluative practice which is fit for the future. 

There is a clear need to engage with this debate and its many issues.  As our contribution, the UK Evaluation Society will hold a series of Round Table Exchanges over the coming period to provide:

  • a space where UK Evaluation Society Members and the wider community, working or interested in evaluation, can discuss and deliberate on these matters in moderated sessions with selected panels.
  • suggestions to help re-shape evaluation practice so that it is fit for the future

Our Round Table Exchanges will consider selected aspects of evaluative practice.  These may include, but are not limited to:

  • The context for evaluative practice
  • Evaluative practice – range and quality of evidence
  • Evaluative practice and influence
  • Evaluative practice – knowledge, skills, capabilities fit for the future

UK Evaluation Society is not alone in this endeavour and seeks to complement the work of our colleagues around the world in raising this debate: 

  • The American Journal of Evaluation’ssection on International Developments in Evaluation 2021, includes a series of commissioned papers on Transforming Evaluation for Times of Global Transformation, which will later be collected in a Special Issue of the Journal. [1]
  • IDEAS (International Development Evaluation Association) has a series of thought-provoking publications, the latest of which is, Transformational Evaluation for the Global Crises of our time (R. van den Berg et al., Routledge, 2021) 
  • European Evaluation Society Webinar Series – Transforming Evaluation – Evaluation for the Good of the Anthropocene, December 2020, and subsequent webinars.  Asia-Pacific, African Evaluation Society, and other Evaluation Society webinars and Conferences
  • The Global Evaluation Initiative (launched by the World Bank Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) in 2020/21.  GEI aims to collaborate with a diverse set of stakeholders involved in developing M+E capacity, from government officials to independent evaluators, and serve as a global platform for curating and sharing local, global M+E knowledge.
  • The Evaluation Round Table – a partnership between the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) and the Centre for Evaluation Innovation.  The Evaluation Round Table takes place every 18 months. It offers independent trusts and foundations an opportunity to gather and reflect on their designing development and use different evaluation and learning approaches.
  • EvalPartners Global Evaluation Agenda  – an innovative partnership whose members are Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Voluntary Organizations for Professional Evaluation (VOPEs). Together, these partners strive to influence policymakers, public opinion, and other key stakeholders into recognising the need for effective evaluation as necessary to any important decision. Find out more: www.evalpartners.org 

 …and many blogs and online groups.

 Come and join the debate!  Each Round Table Exchange will start with input and discussion amongst panellists and then will open for your experience and views. 

Watch this space for forthcoming information about our first Exchange!

Round Table Exchanges are open to all.  Free to UK Evaluation Society Members.