The aim of this event is to open up the debate on ethics and explore how it can become more relevant to the field of impact evaluation. Three core themes are considered: Firstly, a theme that explores new ways in which evaluation might challenge what we consider to be ‘good’ development by characterising and exploring the relationship between development values and evaluation values; Secondly, a theme around universality and plurality, which highlights the situated nature of ethics within evaluation practice; And finally, a theme that highlights the next generation of ethical challenges that may face evaluators.

28 January 2015 - 9:00am to 5:00pm

All practice – whether evaluations or development interventions - is underpinned by particular value systems. This event creates a space to explore what these value systems are and how they are related.

In recent years the field of impact evaluation within international development has become largely driven by methodology and empiricism. It has lost touch with the ‘value’ dimension of evaluation in that values are now primarily understood in relation to rigour: the scientific generation of facts or truths which are assumed to be self-evident and universally valid. Debates on ethics have tended to be limited and focused on ‘care of the subject’ to the exclusion of other ethical issues. Evaluators tend to either follow protocols advocated by funders (and which are sometimes inappropriate), or their own instincts (which leads to inconsistent practice). Evaluation societies and professional bodies have also largely responded to ‘ethics’ by providing universal guidelines that may be hard to use in practice.

The aim of this event is to open up the debate on ethics and explore how it can become more relevant to the field of impact evaluation. The event considers three core themes: Firstly, a theme that explores new ways in which evaluation might challenge what we consider to be ‘good’ development by characterising and exploring the relationship between development values and evaluation values; Secondly, a theme around universality and plurality, which highlights the situated nature of ethics within evaluation practice; And finally, a theme that highlights the next generation of ethical challenges that may face evaluators. 

Ought Implies Can? Reflections on an Evaluator’s Duty to Society

Partner(s): Itad, Institute of Development Studies, University of East Anglia
Invitation only