May 2020 Newsletter

Systems in Evaluation TIG

May 2020 Newsletter



Leadership Team Notes

Hello, Systems in Evaluation TIG Members!

What a time! We hope you and yours are well and you are finding the support and connection you need as we all adjust to new ways in the face of covid-19.

Props to those of you that submitted proposals to AEA through SETIG and our appreciation again to those who volunteered to review. In this newsletter, we update you on the SETIG proposal submissions; share some resources;  invite you to a few upcoming events; and “officially” e-introduce ourselves.

Your SETIG Leadership Team,

Emily Gates & Kim Norris, SETIG Co-chairs

Jeneen R. Garcia & Clara Shim, SETIG Program Chairs

Updates on AEA 2020 SETIG Submissions & Review

We kicked off the proposal review process last April 22 and got all the reviews in last week (shoutout again to our volunteer reviewers!). We received a total of 32 proposals, which were assessed and scored by 2 reviewers each. This year, AEA has allotted SETIG 13 intact sessions, 1 multipaper session, and 5 posters, which is a bit less than last year’s 70% acceptance rate. We’ll let you know in the July newsletter once the conference program is out which ones have made it!


Rad Resources & Readings Hub

Here we share resources, readings, events, and other things relevant to building our systems thinking in evaluation work and connecting with others within and beyond SETIG. Send us your ideas of what to include in future newsletters using this form.

    • Human Systems Dynamics Institute offers ongoing webinars and meet-ups with recent ones tailored to the COVID-19 context. Check out the learning opportunities here.


    • The Systems School. Led by an independent practitioner, The Systems School has an upcoming May offering, “Systems Methods for Systems Change” and open invitations to join their community of practice. More info here.


    • National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), funded by NSF through the University of Maryland, supports synthetic, actionable science related to the structure, functioning, and sustainability of socio-environmental systems. SESYNC provides funding for projects, workshops and training, such as this social and ecological network analysis short course held July 13-17.



Upcoming Events & Members Meet-Ups

Here we share events and opportunities to connect that SETIG hosts.

    • SETIG Virtual Member Meet-up. Have you been thinking about how our lives and work are changing in response to covid-19? And what it means to be a systems-evaluator and do responsible work in this time? Us too! We invite you to join us virtually to talk with other members about what you’re drawing on from your systemic worldviews, ways of being, and toolkits to address these changing times. If interested, please complete this WhenIsGood poll to tell us when it works well for you; we’ll try to find one or a few times that work well in different time zones. And if you’re up for helping plan or facilitate discussions in the meet-up, please contact Emily at


    • Journal Club. In June, we will launch our first ever online SETIG Journal Club, an interactive one-hour Zoom session where members can discuss journal articles of interest. The goal of the journal club is to learn from each other, and to get to know each other better. New SETIG members or those who just started learning about systems in evaluation are encouraged to sign up! This idea came from your feedback in the 2019 SETIG member survey to learn together. Clara will kick the first one off and then will be looking for others to virtually “co-host” a session by picking an article (or book chapter, brief, etc.) and facilitating discussion. If you want to co-host, have articles or books to recommend, or have other ideas, please fill out this very short survey.


Member Spotlight

In future issues, we’ll introduce one or several of you to get to know each other and our systems-evaluation interests. This time, we’re getting started by officially e-introducing ourselves to you 🙂

Emily Gates, Co-Chair

While I’m now in my second year as co-chair, I’m not sure I ever introduced myself in a newsletter, whoops! As an assistant professor of evaluation at Boston College, I teach graduate-level evaluation & mixed methods courses; conduct evaluations; and juggle several research and writing projects. I’d say my systems interests really took off during graduate school when I did my dissertation research on the implications of systems thinking and complexity science for evaluation. I mostly dug into critical systems heuristics and the systems thinking in practice work of the Open University, but keep expanding to try out other systems approaches. Current projects include evaluating a system change initiative to personalize learning in K-12 school districts and a case study of how systems thinking and modeling informs evaluative learning in a philanthropic health initiative.


Kim Norris, Co-Chair

I am delighted to have joined an energetic leadership set as SETIG co-chair. I have enjoyed many years as a member of this amazing group of thinkers who recognize the key role systems-based approaches play in how we effectively serve clients and the world we live in through evaluation. With a dual behavioral ecology and systems modelling doctoral focus and, along the journey, having designed and applied adaptive management models with CS Holling (back in the ‘80s – yikes!), I appreciate the evolution of evaluative thinking and how we are moving toward more connected and supportive modes and models – both inherent to systems-based evaluation. I love how I can apply this orientation in my current role as a Senior Evaluation Specialist for a small, woman-owned international evaluation, learning and leadership strengthening firm, EnCompass, based in the DC area.


Jeneen Garcia, Program Co-Chair

I am now on my second year as SETIG Program Co-chair, but due to schedule conflicts with the AEA Conferences, have yet to have the pleasure of meeting many of you brilliant thinkers! With an academic and work background in environmental science and management, I got drawn to the field of complex systems through my non-profit work in coupled human and ecological systems (which are basically everywhere on Earth!). My current work as evaluator at the Global Environment Facility, a multilateral trust fund working with international development banks and UN agencies, is a natural progression — I enjoy designing interdisciplinary approaches and combining quant and qual methods to assess complex interventions in complex settings.


Clara Shim, Program Co-Chair

I am currently a doctoral student at Boston College, with training in program evaluation theory and methods, along with data collection and analysis. Currently, I am working on an evaluation for the Boston College Online Master of Healthcare Administration program, which is centered around effective teaching and learning practices in the online learning space. My research interest also aligns with my current work. I have recently developed a comprehensive framework for evaluating quality indicators of online graduate programs. I hope to build upon the framework and study how such indicators can be best measured.


Stay Connected & Involved

Reach out to us personally or through the SETIG email at Stay tuned for updates on our social media outreach and a revamp of our website!

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