The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) undertook an extensive study to assess its contributions to key global challenges: (1) accelerating rates of deforestation and forest degradation, (2) restoring degraded land and ecosystem services, (3) widespread unsustainable land use practices, (4) persistent rural poverty and increasing levels of vulnerability, and (5) rising demand and need for nutritious food for current and future generations. The Sustainability Research Effectiveness team supported FTA to measure progress to outcomes and estimate potential impacts of the program to address these challenges.
Both the Transdisciplinary Research Quality Assessment Framework and the Outcome Evaluation Approach were given spotlight in the latest issue of Research Features magazine. The article discusses the need for new approaches to define and assess transdisciplinary research, as more researchers and funders have come to appreciate the value of transcending disciplinary academic boundaries.
The Sustainability Research Effectiveness team was recently invited to support Ashoka Canada to develop a Theory of Change to support a new Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy for Ashoka Canada. Ashoka Canada is working to build and cultivate a community of change leaders who catalyze positive change in the world.
The Sustainability Research Effectiveness (SRE) team wishes all the best to a remarkable colleague, Stephanie Jones, who is relocating to the United Kingdom. Stephanie has been an integral part of the team, leading many case study evaluations of Royal Roads graduate projects, improving representation of social change theories in projects, and even developing the team’s logo. SRE is pleased to announce that Stephanie will continue to collaborate with the team on the many projects in which she has been involved.
Research has a vital role in solving complex problems. In 2019, Prof. Brian Belcher was appointed as Ashoka Chair in Research Effectiveness. The Ashoka Chair continues work begun under a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair (2013-2020). It supports the Sustainability Research Effectiveness (SRE) program’s efforts to develop and apply concepts, tools and methods to understand and measure how research contributes to changemaking processes, and to use that learning to guide improved research teaching and practice. SRE evaluations of graduate research projects provide relevant learning to equip Royal Roads with the know-how to fulfil its commitments to research impact and change-making education. SRE’s work also shapes research policy, management, and practice more broadly to help research funders and managers support relevant, credible, legitimate, and applicable/actionable research that makes a difference. The news story published by Royal Roads features some of the SRE program’s key methods, research findings, and outcomes to date.
How do we assess research impact for learning and accountability? Does transdisciplinary research lead to more effective outcomes? The CGIAR’s Forest Trees and Agroforestry Consortium Research Program has recently published a blog that provides an overview of two of our latest articles that address these key questions.
The Royal Roads Library has created a virtual tour of the Sustainability Research Effectiveness team’s showcase exhibit. The exhibit presents information about the program, its methods and tools, projects and case studies, findings to date, and working partnerships. It highlights the program’s work with Royal Roads graduate students to assess how graduate research contributes to change, as well as collaborations with the CGIAR that evaluate global research-for-development projects focused on sustainability.
How do we capture and strengthen the societal effects of research? The Sustainability Research Effectiveness program presented methods and results to a session aimed to tackle this question at the International Transdisciplinarity Conference in Gothenburg, Sweden, last week. The conference brought together academics, practitioners, policy-makers, and research funders to focus on learning from collaborative experiences, case studies, and practices. Rachel Claus represented the team, presenting results from a comparative analysis using a comprehensive theory-based evaluation methodology to seven completed research projects.
Brian, Rachel and Stephanie hosted a workshop for students of the Doctoral of Social Sciences Program at Royal Roads University to work them through their research designs using a theory of change framework. The session helped the Sustainability Research Effectiveness team learn about the applications of Theory of Change in planning quality research for impact.
The Transdisciplinary Science Lab at ETH Zurich together with the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences has published an overview of Theory of Change for use in research contexts, prepared by the Sustainability Research Effectiveness team. “The theory of change tool is really important. It will complement the toolbox well for researchers interested in knowledge co-production and transdisciplinary science” said ETH associate, Dr. Gabriela Wülser.
Brian Belcher was invited to present and participate in a workshop on “Impact Assessment and Landscapes in CGIAR” organized by the CGIAR Standing Panel on Impact Assessment (SPIA) held on Oct. 9 2018 in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The workshop was organized in conjunction with Science Forum 2018. The purpose of this forum was to inform the development of research themes and frameworkds within the CGIAR with the goals of strengthening the science-policy interface and delivering on research impact.
Belcher shares approach and lessons learned in outcome evaluations at CIFOR’s 25th Anniversary Annual Meeting
Brian Belcher participated in the Annual Science Meeting of the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), on the theme of “Forests Matter”. This year marks CIFOR’s 25th anniversary. Belcher ran a session on co-generation of knowledge and presented the Sustainability Research Effectiveness (SRE) Program’s approach and lessons learned in planning and evaluating CIFOR research projects. CIFOR is in the process of adopting the principles in the SRE’s transdisciplinary research quality assessment framework for their own research quality assessment.
Brian Belcher is participating in a working group on improving how researchers collect and communicate impact information in the social sciences and humanities. Brian submitted a brief on how the SRE Program conceptualizes research outcomes and impacts. The brief notes that typical measures of “research impact” focus on indicators of influence on the research agenda (e.g., publications, citations, impact factors) via research outputs and communications. We are more interested in influence beyond the academic, particularly in social change.
Brian Belcher, Rachel Claus, Rachel Davel, and Cheryl Heykoop facilitated a full-day workshop with Power To Be staff, partners, and participants to develop a Theory of Change for the organization. This will support Power To Be in piloting a new monitoring and evaluation strategy that helps the organization achieve its goals. Power To Be aspires to inspire youth and families in need of support to discover their limitless abilities through nature-based programs.
The Bachelor of Business Administration Program at Royal Roads University initiated collaboration with the Sustainability Research Effectiveness team to articulate a Theory of Change for their program. The process advanced understanding and highlighted important lessons about how their program can contribute to social change.
Brian Belcher participated in the 2018 Ashoka Exchange, a meeting of 8,000 of the world’s leaders in higher education social innovation held in Boston, Massachusetts. “It was truly inspiring to meet so many other people committed to implementing and sharing lessons about the kinds of innovation we need to solve pressing problems and realize our opportunities,” said Belcher.
The Sustainability Research Effectiveness team helped facilitate a Theory of Change workshop for a new project on youth engagement in climate change adaptation led by Royal Roads University’s Resilience by Design Lab. The workshop brought together a diverse group of 39 participants over two days to launch the project and develop a preliminary theory of change.
Sustainability Research Effectiveness nominated and selected as Semi-Finalist for Ashoka Innovation Award
The Sustainability Research Effectiveness Program’s investigation of research effectiveness was nominated for an Ashoka Innovation Award and selected as a semi-finalist.
Brian Belcher presented the methodology and preliminary results of three outcome evaluations of completed forestry research projects at IUFRO’s 125th Anniversary Congress in Freiburg, Germany.
Brian Belcher has been appointed to the Advisory Group for “PSC-Mercator Fellowship Program – Bridging Plant Science and Society” at ETH Zurich. This transdisciplinary PhD fellowship program supports research projects that deal with socially-relevant issues from the perspective more than one academic discipline and in collaboration with at least one relevant non-academic stakeholder.
Program approach presented at the Conference on International Agricultural Research: Rigorous Evidence for Policy
The Conference on International Agricultural Research: Rigorous Evidence for Policy brought together 200 participants in Nairobi, Kenya, from July 6 to 8, 2017, to discuss emerging studies about to what degree and how agricultural research has contributed to positive change. Brian Belcher gave an invited talk to share his experience and lessons learned using a theory-based approach to outcome evaluation.
Royal Roads University, in partnership with the University of Saskatchewan and the Canadian Biosphere Reserve Association, arranged an event around co-developing sustainability and reconciliation with indigenous leaders, biosphere reserve practitioners, academic researchers, and government stakeholders to discuss experiences to date, lessons learned, and new ways forward. One of the questions posed during the event was “What does reconciliation mean to you?”
Rachel Claus and Brian Belcher traveled to Bogor, Indonesia, to participate and support the facilitation of a sense-making workshop for CIFOR’s contribution to the overall KNOWFOR program. Three of the program’s case study evaluations of completed research projects (Brazil Nut, Fire and Haze, Poverty and Environment Network) were showcased to share, reflect, and validate results with participants.