The 2018 Conference has the overall theme of Transformations, with the following sub-themes:

Transformations in diversity and power

Evaluations which fail to critically engage with questions of power and equity can perpetuate inequality. There are increasing calls for evaluators to transform their practice to better address inequality and strengthen cultural capacity. We ask:

  • How are we strengthening and building Indigenous and non-Indigenous capacity in culturally safe evaluation theory, practice and use?
  • What principles and practices are we using to design space for different voices, values and forms of evidence to promote fairness, equity, accessibility and sustainability?

Transformations in digital innovation, big data and user-centred design

Digital technologies, big data and user-centred design offer new possibilities to government, not-for-profit and philanthropic organisations to tackle wicked problems. The growth of augmented and virtual reality, machine learning, big data and artificial intelligence all have implications for the field of evaluation. We ask:

  • What do these transformations offer to the field of evaluation?
  • How can evaluative thinking shape different conversations about design, technology and big data, to help shape a fairer, sustainable future?

Systems transformation

There is an increasing realisation that to address 'wicked' social and environmental problems we need to work beyond single sectors or programs. Adaptive, emergent and systems change initiatives require different ways of evaluating and a greater need for collaboration across sectoral boundaries. We ask:

  • What are we learning about collaborating with unlikely partners and operating at the systems level?
  • How is our practice adapting to work at the system level?

Capability and mindsets

Keeping abreast of current and emerging evaluation practices is part of being a competent evaluator and is one of the components of ethical practice. Other disciplines, such as design, suggest that mindsets (such as empathy, preparedness to fail and hearing what has been said) need to be cultivated as foundational capabilities. While the AES’ evaluation competencies outline a range of skills and knowledge areas, our toolkit is not fixed. We ask:

  • What are the mindsets and capabilities needed by evaluators to keep pace with emerging trends? What does this mean for ethical practice?
  • What new or foundational evaluation tools and techniques are you using that evaluators – new, emerging and more experienced – simply must know about?