Regional Seminar Cards 600 337 mm 23

Date and time: Wednesday 22 February 2023, 12.00 - 1.00pm AEDT
Topic: Critical exploration of systems thinking as applied to culturally responsive evaluation practice
Presenter: Bob Williams
Venue: Via Zoom. Details will be emailed to registrants just prior to the start time
Register online by: Tuesday 21 February 2023

Event overview

The word ‘multiculturalism' trips nicely off the tongue. The world is full of cultures. It’s only fair - indeed equitable - to include all of them. But can you? People often assume that systemic approaches are about including everything. Thus, they look to the systems field for answers to the multicultural conundrum. Yet it is a principle of systemic practice that every systemic action is partial. You can’t see everything, understand everything, or do everything. The major contribution of systemic thinking and practice’s contribution to multiculturalism is to help decide what to leave in and what to leave out of any endeavour - such as evaluation. And one part of that field, critical systems, addresses the power related ethical choices these decisions entail. Bob Williams will explore the potential use of critical systems ideas as applied to multicultural evaluation practice. Bob will speak for 30 minutes followed by 20 minutes for questions and open discussion.

Presenter details

Bob specializes in the evaluation of complex and “difficult” projects and programs. His focus is on evaluation approaches that are robust and rigorous whilst at the same time produces information and analysis that are “good enough” for organizations that must use the information to take real decisions in real timeframes. Consequently, he has a particular interest and expertise in evaluation designs and processes that educate, inform, promote use and develop evaluation capacity and program development. Increasingly he works to focus evaluations on their ‘consequences’ rather than just their ‘use’. Bob has been using “systems” concepts in his work for over thirty years. He was originally trained as an ecologist – one of the earliest “systems” disciplines. He is well versed in a variety of different systems methods, including relatively “old” approaches such as system dynamics, and soft systems methodology, as well as relatively new ones such as complex adaptive systems, critical systems and activity theory. For the past few years, Bob has been exploring how to adapt systems ideas and systems methods into evaluation practice. In particular, he is interested in how established systems approaches can be adapted to the evaluation setting, and how existing evaluation methods can be adapted to be more “systemic”. In 2014 he was presented with the American Evaluation Association’s Lazarsfeld Award for contributions to the theory and practice of evaluation. He is a past member of the Editorial Boards of three of the leading evaluation journals and led the redevelopment and relaunching of the Evaluation Journal of Australasia.

Also, are you passionate about culturally responsive evaluation, equity and systems thinking! We are putting a call out for anyone who might be keen to join our core group.

This is a special event organised by the Multicultural Evaluation Special Interest Group (MESIG). AES free events provide an opportunity for you to meet with AES members and others in the evaluation community and to share and learn from the experiences of fellow evaluators.

This seminar will be recorded and available on the AES YouTube channel approximately four weeks after the date. We suggest you subscribe to the AES YouTube channel to be notified when new recordings are added. 

Seminar start times

  • VIC, NSW, ACT, TAS: 12.00pm
  • SA: 11.30am
  • QLD: 11.00am
  • NT: 10.30am
  • Perth: 9.00am
  • New Zealand: 2.00pm

For other time zones please go to

Please ensure you have access to your email address just prior to the start time to access Zoom details. Please also check your email address is correct on your registration form before submitting. Thanks.


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