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Wednesday, September 18 • 2:30pm - 3:00pm
Buddhist Evaluation: Thinking outside the box of Western-derived methods

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Kathryn Dinh (UNSW), Heather Worth (UNSW), Bridget Haire (UNSW)

The field of evaluation tends to be dominated by certain Western-derived understandings of the way the world works and underlying belief that these understandings are universal. Culturally responsive evaluation recognises the existence of diverse world views and some of its exponents argue that it needs to encompass more than simply working closely in collaboration with locally-based partners. It should additionally involve modifying and creating new evaluation approaches that are grounded in non-Western world views.

While there has been significant innovation in evaluation approaches that reflect Indigenous world views in Australia, New Zealand, the US and elsewhere, there has been less progress in reflecting the world views of South-East and East Asia. Buddhism has a significant global influence today, and particularly in these regions where it is practised by a large majority of the population.

In this presentation, we suggest an applied approach to culturally responsive evaluation by first analysing the world views underpinning Buddhism and the Most Significant Change (MSC) technique, a participatory method for monitoring and evaluation that involves the collection of stories of significant change. We then identify where these converge and diverge and suggest practical ways in which the MSC technique could be adapted to reflect a Buddhist world view. Finally we look at how in a globalised world, societies are made up of a complex and dynamic mix of values, philosophies, traditions, religions and cultures. We discuss that as evaluators, we can use this approach to work with locally-based colleagues to unpack the theory and value systems underpinning existing evaluation methods, and repackage the methods or create new ones that reflect, and are responsive to, the complex and dynamic world views in the local context being evaluated.

avatar for Karen Fisher

Karen Fisher

Professor, Social Policy Research Centre UNSW
I conduct research and evaluation about disability and mental health policy in Australia and China. I use inclusive methods with people with disability, families and other stakeholders. I am enjoying extending that to film, photos and other accessible methods to ensure the evaluations... Read More →

avatar for Kathryn Dinh

Kathryn Dinh

MEL Consultant/PhD Candidate, UNSW
Kathryn is a monitoring, evaluation and learning consultant with more than 20 years of experience across Asia, the Pacific (including Australia) and the Commonwealth of Independent States. She specialises in evaluation for health and international development programs, advocacy evaluation... Read More →

Wednesday September 18, 2019 2:30pm - 3:00pm AEST