‘Politics of Evidence’ Conference: For who, why and what?
Who determines what counts as sufficient or accurate evidence? What values are allowed to shape the choices that are made? What are the implications for everyday development work? The political push and pull around ‘evidence’ will be debated in our conference in April 2013 in Brighton, UK. As part of our conference planning, clarity around participation and purpose is paramount. Here are our thoughts so far.
Who is it for?
This conference provides an opportunity to sharing and strategise for people working on transformational development, be it on the ground, in head offices, in consultancies or think tanks. You, like us, are trying to reconcile your understanding of messy, unpredictable and risky pathways of societal transformation with bureaucracy driven protocols. And have struggled to make sense of the shifting sands of the results agenda – seeing the wisdom in some aspects while actively questioning its less useful, sometimes damaging, manifestations and consequences.
The conference aims to make the most of the experiences and ideas of more seasoned practitioners and thinkers. It is not a training workshop and, therefore, is not intended for those who are new to these debates or issues. However, the outputs of the conference will be documented to have wide practical value for all those working on and supporting transformational development.
What are the outputs?
Conference outputs will range from the visible to the personal. Some outputs will be very tangible such as analytical frameworks to understand organisational discourses around ‘results’ – and case studies that illustrate how the results agenda works in practice in diverse organisations. What’s behind a particular protocol or a reporting format in terms of how results are understood? What alternative processes might be adopted in working within organisational systems or stretching them? The conference will not be a marketplace to exchange specific evaluation methods or approaches. Rather we will focus on sharing experiences, strategies and tactics that expand the institutional spaces for those approaches that give useful and accurate insight into development as transformation.
Being engaged in an interactive conference process will give participants greater capacity to analyse power dynamics in their contexts, to understand the politics of evidence, identify manoeuvring space, and generate appropriate options. Seeing examples of how others have undertaken this will give people courage and confidence to start or continue to measure and value transformation in ways that are respectful, fair and useful. Participants will leave with specific questions answered and information shared, as well as potential strategies and tactics to try out.to make possible evaluative practice that fitting for transformative development.
Why this is important
It’s the transformation that matters; the evidence emerging from evaluation must serve rather than constrain it. Tapping into the collective experience gives us a stronger basis for creative ways forward.
So if these are our ideas, what do you want the conference to do for you? Please let us know!