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Wednesday, September 19 • 2:00pm - 2:30pm
The offerings and challenges of transdisciplinarity for evaluation

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Keren Winterford (Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney)

This paper explores the offerings but also the challenges of employing theory and practice of transdisciplinary research, which is being increasingly employed in academic research, to realms of evaluation. This way of working is in response to a recognition of 'wicked' problems, complexity and that solutions for the future will not be solved by single disciplines alone. As Einstein said "we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them."

Transdisciplinarity offers an approach through which to ask different types of questions, to different types of actors, in order to create new types of transformative knowledge for improved program design and implementation. 

The paper describes aspects of transdisciplinary research, including purposive, holistic, participatory, experimental and action focused and dynamic, and situates these within practice examples of evaluation. The paper highlights the importance of situating evaluator expertise with other sets of knowledge and exploring underlying world views that inform policy and program interventions. This type of practice is increasingly in line with how projects and programs operate. 

Transdisciplinarity offers a set of thinking and practice which situates the evaluator together with other sets of knowledge. This includes equally valuing and integrating different knowledge and perspectives, and by working outside traditional definitions and crossing disciplinary boundaries, adapting and transforming to find connections and meaning.

The paper tests the practice of transdisciplinary research against the expectations of evaluation practice and highlights challenges of working through such an approach which include uncertainty of bringing multiple actors together in a process of co-design and co-production, use of different languages, and dominance of singular frameworks. Despite its challenges, the paper concludes that transdisciplinarity provides a useful means through which to guide evaluation theory and practice and for evaluators to contribute to addressing societal problems, discourse and strengthened policy and programming objectives. 

avatar for Keren Winterford

Keren Winterford

Research Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney
Dr Winterford has 20 years of work experience working in the international development sector, in multiple capacities with Managing Contractors, NGOs, as a private consultant, and more recently in development research. She currently provides research and consultancy services for numerous... Read More →

Wednesday September 19, 2018 2:00pm - 2:30pm AEST
Chancellor 4