2021 MQP

InterconnectedPracticesIconsNew_v02_Evaluating Impact


Evaluation for Transformative Change

How Evaluation Can Help Drive – Rather Than Hinder – Transformative Efforts to Address Climate Change, Equity and Human Survival

Join Michael Quinn Patton and Mark Cabaj for this new virtual workshop series, running on April 20, 22, 27, and 29, 2021

Transforming evaluation for evaluating transformation examines the contributions that evaluation can make to addressing crises like the coronavirus pandemic, the global climate emergency, and related threats to human survival looming large in Earth’s future.

Humankind has moved into a new epoch called the Anthropocene: The era of human impact on the future of the Earth. The stability, sustainability, and resilience of the Earth’s systems, both natural and human, are now at risk due to cumulative negative human actions. Two conclusions characterize our times:

  1. Humanity’s use of the Earth’s resources for both production and consumption is unsustainable.

  2. Transformation globally is urgently required to avoid catastrophe.

The Coronavirus Pandemic has provided a glimpse into the magnitude of changes set in motion by a global emergency. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (2020), among many others, has warned consistently throughout the pandemic that climate change looms over the world as a larger, more far-reaching global emergency for which Covid-19 has been but a dress rehearsal, an early warning of what lies ahead at greater magnitude though slower manifestation.

The UN Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change issued in 2018 identifies the year 2030 as roughly the time when global warming reaches an irreversible tipping point. These conclusions about the scope and nature of humanity’s global emergencies has led to calls for urgent and major global systems transformation.

This workshop featuring Michael Quinn Patton will examine the implications for evaluation over four sessions:

  • Session 1, April 20th: Getting our Heads Around Transformation

  • Session 2, April 22nd: Towards Integrated Theory of Transformation

  • Session 3, April 27th: Embracing Evaluation Criteria For Transformation

  • Session 4, April 29th: Emerging Issues & Practices

Tamarack values small group interaction and workshop environments.  We are intentionally limiting this workshop series to 70-75 participants to ensure that all participants maximize their learning and connection. 

What Will I Learn?

The three questions this workshop addresses are:

Transformation - What is it? How to do it? How to evaluate it?

This applies beyond climate change mitigation and the global pandemic to related problems of food security, agricultural transformation, equity issues, governance transformations, and the connections between local and global changes. The premise is that evaluation must be transformed if it is to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Traditional project and program evaluation won’t suffice to address transformational systems changes across sectors on a global scale. Indeed, traditional approaches to project and program evaluation can create barriers to transformative change.

We’ll look at examples of transformative initiatives and their evaluations, or lack thereof. In so doing, we will distinguish a theory of transformation from a theory of change. This series will offer principles for global systems transformation as a framework for assessing the likely adequacy of an initiative or intervention to be transformative.

Given that transformational changes are multi-faceted and occur in complex dynamic systems, traditional evaluation concerns about attribution, effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability have to be reframed. For example, systems transformation is different from program outcomes — different in the degree of change, the nature of change, the pace of change, the direction of change, the scale of change, the interconnectedness of change, and the implications for sustainability and systems resilience.

Evaluating transformation requires new ways of conceptualizing and conducting evaluations. That is the focus of this workshop.

This Workshop Series Is For You If:

This workshop series is for you if you’re concerned about addressing transformational change in the face of the global crises brought on by climate change and related threats to the survival of humanity. This includes:

  • Evaluators who want to help – rather than hinder – transformative change processes

  • Designers of transformative interventions who would like to learn about some of the best thinking on how transformative change happens

  • Policy makers concerned about the future,

  • Researchers studying global trends,

  • Funders of transformative initiatives and evaluation of those initiatives,

  • Students desiring to prepare for the sustainability challenges of the future.

Learning Agenda:

Highlights of the learning agenda is organized around three major learning objectives with guided opportunities to apply these ideas into workshop participants’ own work:



Explore the idea of the Anthropocene Epoch in which humanity finds itself and the implications for design and evaluation of transformative initiatives and interventions

Reflect on why you and your colleagues are motivated to contribute to transformative change and what that change looks like.

Learn the dimensions of a theory of transformation, how it is different from a theory of change, and the evaluation implications of the differences.

Review how your own theory of change might be strengthened by the emerging theory of transformation, and surface the evaluation implications of doing so.

Learn about the six criteria for evaluating transformational initiatives

Apply these criteria to their own change initiatives and/or change larger transformational efforts in society






Register for the Four-Part Workshop

"Human actions have created the global problems humanity faces; human actions are necessary to resolve these problems; thus, there are things for evaluators to know about global sustainability in the context of the Anthropocene to undertake evaluations knowledgeably and credibly."

Blue Marble Evaluation


MQPMichael Quinn Patton

Michael Quinn Patton is an independent organizational development and evaluation consultant. He is former president of the American Evaluation Association, and the author of five evaluation books including fourth editions of Utilization-Focused Evaluation (2008) and Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods (2015). These books have been used in over 500 universities worldwide. He is also author of Creative Evaluation (1987), Practical Evaluation (1982) and Culture and Evaluation (1985). He has co-authored a book on the dynamics of social innovation with two Canadians drawing on complexity theory and systems thinking: Getting to Maybe: How the World is Changed (Random House, 2006). That led to his book, Developmental Evaluation: Applying Complexity Concepts to Enhance Innovation and Use (Guilford Press, 2011). He also authored Essentials of Utilization-Focused Evaluation (2012). His latest books are Developmental Evaluation Exemplars: Principles in Practice (2016) and Principles-Focused Evaluation (2016).

After receiving his doctorate in sociology from the University of Wisconsin, he spent 18 years on the faculty of the University of Minnesota (1973-1991), including five years as director of the Minnesota Center for Social Research and 10 years with the Minnesota Extension Service. He received the university's Morse Amoco Award for outstanding teaching. He also served as a faculty member with the Union Institute & University for 16 years.

Michael has worked with organizations and programs at the international, national, state and local levels, and with philanthropic, not-for-profit, private sector and government programs. He uses a variety of evaluation and research methods, with special focus on mixed-methods designs and analysis.

Learn more about Michael

Mark Cabaj Square CropMark Cabaj

Mark is President of the consulting company From Here to There and an Associate of Tamarack - An Institute for Community Engagement. Mark has first-hand knowledge of using evaluation as a policy maker, philanthropist, and activist, and has played a big role in promoting the merging practice of developmental evaluation in Canada.

While studying the Solidarity movement in Krakow, Poland, in mid-1989, Mark experienced a variety of tumultuous events that signalled the end of communism in Eastern Europe. He stayed to experience the rebirth of the region and worked as an Investment Advisor in Poland's Foreign Investment Agency, the Foreign Assistance Coordinator for Grants in the new Ministry of Privatization, and the Mission Coordinator for the creation of the United Nations Development Program's first regional economic development initiative in Eastern Europe. Upon return to Canada, he was an Executive Director of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network, part of the founding team of the Tamarack Institute, Executive Director of Vibrant Communities Canada. He now runs Here to There Consulting, a consultancy that specializes in strategy, learning and evaluation for efforts to tackle complex challenges.

Learn more about Mark


This is a four-part virtual workshop, with sessions on April 20, 22, 27, and 29th, 2021 from 1:00 - 4:00 PM EST

Part One:

Pre-Workshop Session: Registrants will receive a pre-workshop self-reflection and assessment tool that they will be asked to complete prior to the workshop

Part Two: 

Virtual Learning Events – Hosted via Zoom

• Tuesday, April 20, 2021 1pm Eastern via Zoom. 
• Thursday, April 22, 2021 1pm Eastern via Zoom. 
• Tuesday, April 27, 2021 1pm Eastern via Zoom. 
• Thursday, April 29, 2021 1pm Eastern via Zoom

Registration is now open, and is limited to 70-75 learners.  Participants will be sent a pre-workshop package ahead of the workshop. Zoom meeting details will be sent in advance. 


The registration rate (in Canadian dollars) is

$689 per person for a single registration

$589 per person for groups of 3+

Cities Reducing Poverty, Cities Deepening Community, and Communities Building Youth Futures members are eligible for a reduced price of $589 per person. Contact Duncan for more information.

The registration rate includes all four (4) virtual workshop sessions, and a membership into Tamarack Institute's Learning community. 

If you are in need of assistance with your registration or have any questions, contact Duncan. 


April 20, 22, 27, and 29th, 2021 | 1:00 - 4:00 PM EST

Register for the Four-Part Workshop

For questions regarding this event, reach out to Duncan.
For questions regarding invoicing and payments, reach out to Mikayla.