I might be interested in exploring this with you — I was an evolutionary ecologist once-upon-a-time (biology PhD). But I’ll be upfront in saying it’s been a LONG time since I’ve done any population biology (and the sort that your speaking of, while part of my coursework, was not part of my PhD).

I’d also wonder how change in the “environment” impact the fitness of “organisms”? Ie, a program that was “adapted” to its environment a decade ago might be woefully mal-adapted today. Interesting to think about how far this analogy can be taken — programs do not live or die solely by how “fit” (good?) they are, but also politics, mandates….

This would be an interesting intellectual exercise. Would need to think through whether it would useful in a practical sense (though I’m all for science for science sake)?

At the moment, things are very busy with work, but I might be able to set some time aside.

Meghan Guinnee mguinnee@catalystresearch.net

One thought on “Meghan Guinnee’s comment on Jam’s original Evaltalk post about population ecology and program sustainability

  1. Hi Meghann –
    PE has plenty to say about changing environments, so I don’t see that as an barrier. As for practical value though, I’m with you 100%. I am not at all sure there is any. One reason is the population as opposed to individual level of analysis issue. The second is that beyond simple heuristics, the only way that I know to apply PE is with lots of data (real and projected) pumped through quite a bit of mathematics. I don’t see anyone in my business as having the data. It’s a little like my hesitation about using complex systems in evaluation. Outside of computer based agent-based modeling, application is limited. (On the other hand, see Odette Segal’s and Kim Norris’ comments.)

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