Program and Policy Design and Evaluation in Complex Situations

This course as part of the Integrative Peacebuilding (IPB) series focuses on how to design interventions, whether these be policies, programs of projects in situations of high complexity where outcomes cannot be determined with certainty or where the intervention seeks an innovative outcome which by definition cannot be clearly defined upfront. These situations occur both in development in relatively stable but complex situations where many actors are present and are linked by dynamic and constantly changing interconnections and relationships. The course is designed to be very practice oriented but adequate theory is included to ensure that participants new to this kind of thinking can have a sound understanding of the principles in order to be ready for the practice.

The course will start from the commonly used traditional approaches to public policy, programs and projects design and evaluation, consider the value, applicability and limitations of these approaches and then move to consider complexity informed approaches. The latter will include gentle action in which the design works with the energy of a system which is gently nudged in the desired direction rather the using externally forced approach. Policy design will from iterative and triangulated approaches which include commonly used cost benefit analysis but goes further to look to narrative policy analysis and local justice systems.  After discussing the roles and uses of formative and summative evaluations the course will then address developmental evaluation which is much more relevant to complex adaptive systems. Adequate time and materials will be made available so participants will leave with a good grasp and feel confident to experiment with these new approaches in their place of work or study.

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  • Public servants, NGO staff, and graduate students working with complex conflicts, humanitarian relief, early recovery, or in more stable development situation but seeking to design or evaluate innovative approaches in these contexts will find these ideas and tools of immense practical value in their work.

Naresh Singh. Ph.D. was involved with IPB during the early days of its conceptualization while he was still at CIDA and having left CIDA throughout the delivery of the pilot as St. Paul University. He carried out a pioneering developmental evaluation of the pilot which involved his participation in the all the courses, interacting with professors and students, going through the readings as well as posts and papers and preparing an evaluation report of the pilot. He also prepared the IPB case study on the Syrian conflict.

Naresh has more than 3 decades of post Ph.D. international development experience including work in several countries in conflict such as Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and countries impacted by the Syrian conflict. His pioneering work in international development has included the development and application of the sustainable livelihoods approach to poverty reduction and applications of complexity theory to development challenges including project design, policy, and developmental evaluation. Naresh was a Director General and acting Vice President at CIDA; Program Director at the at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and Principal Adviser on Poverty and Sustainable Livelihoods at UNDP among several other high-profile positions. He has also been visiting scholar/professor as several Universities in North America, India and the Caribbean and is widely published. (Details of his work can be viewed at

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