Bob Williams’ comment on Jam’s original Evaltalk post about population ecology and program sustainability

Kia ora Jonny,

Take a look at some of the European sustainability literature. Given that all EU social programs have to demonstrate how they will be sustainable, there’s been quite a bit of work in a variety of directions on this. Indeed the EU funded four years of conferences and associated training programs on evaluating for sustainability. Very little of the knowledge generated on this has found its way into evaluation practice outside Europe which is a pity since some (but by no means all) of it is way ahead of the debates I’ve seen within, say, the AEA.

One of the things that you might look at is what’s been written about the notion of “steering”. It doesn’t actually originate in complex adaptive systems ideas but seems to have some affinities with it. If you are familiar with Cynefin framework, it seeks to put some practical spins on the idea of probe, sense, respond – concepts which are OK in principle but strangely elusive in practice.

Bob Williams bob@bobwilliams.co.nz

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