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Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology: Events


Spaces of Evidence final seminar – Evidence and Organisations in Development

Spaces of Evidence final seminar – Evidence and Organisations in Development
Hosted by: Ian Harper # EdCMA; Hosted by: james Smith # Centre for African Studies; Hosted by: Michelle Taylor # Centre for African Studies
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Date and Time
6th Oct 2016 09:00 - 7th Oct 2016 17:00
Informatics Forum, University of Edinburgh

The last workshop in the Spaces of Evidence series will address the theme ‘Evidence and Organisations in Development’, and will be held at Edinburgh University on 6th & 7th October 2016. 

The event is hosted by the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Medical Anthropology and the Centre for African Studies.

Organised by Ian Harper, James Smith and Michelle Taylor

Confirmed speakers include:

Tim Allen, LSE; Linsey McGoey, Essex University; Russell Stothard, LSTM; David Torgerson, York University; Dan James, INTRAC; Lizzy Whitehead, Practical Action; Martin Walsh, Oxfam; Peter Evans, DFID; Address Malata, University of Malawi; Marlee Tichenor, Berkeley; Deepak Thapa, Social Science Baha (Nepal); Georgina Pearson, LSE; Giulia Zoccatelli, SOAS; Edward Stevenson, UCL; Fiona Gedeon Achi, McGill; Jeevan Sharma, Edinburgh University; Jean-Benoît Falisse, Edinburgh University; Christine Bell, Edinburgh University; Ian Harper, Edinburgh University; John MacInnes, Edinburgh University.

Workshop outline

What constitutes good evidence for development? The last decade has seen the rise in the idea that development interventions should be driven by relevant evidence. The Millennium Development Goals, (MDGs), in particular, facilitated or at least dovetailed with the drive for the move towards the generation of evidence by focusing on health related issues (in particular MDGs 4, 5 & 6 – child and maternal health, and infectious disease control respectively) and allowed for the narrowing, propagation and forwarding of certain forms of evidence, driven by big data and certain metrics. Ideas of evidence, so prevalent in medicine, were increasingly deemed important, as ideas of evidence bled into the development sector with its assumptions and rationalities. This has served to blur the boundaries between ‘evidence’ and ‘evaluation’.

Development interventions are driven by organisations. How do these organisations generate evidence for their interventions, policies and programmes? How do they prove the efficacy and effects of their impact and influence? We seek examples from research that has focused on a range of institutions, including bilaterals like DfID, multilaterals like the World Bank, UN and WHO, philanthropic organisations, Civil Society Organisations and the like.  In addition, we ask what are the implications for evidence generation in development with the newly ratified Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and their far broader definitions of what development is? How do these new goals impact on ideas of evidence? Finally, we hope to begin a discussion over what direction the drive to generate evidence is moving. With the means of generating evidence rapidly proliferating (e.g. via twitter and mobile phones), how can the resultant streams of big data be put to meaningful use? Can we create feedback loops in which emerging data can more rapidly inform practice (and more latterly policy)? Can developing countries increasingly make use of this data to determine the course of their own development? And what, if anything, might we be missing if we go down the road of focusing all our energies on measuring only that which is measurable?

Participation is by invitation only, however if you do wish to attend or have any queries please email Michelle Taylor at

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