EPE TIG Week: Independent Evaluation Consulting Opportunities and Climate Change by Stephen Maack

Hi, I’m Stephen Maack, an AEA member since 2002, a long-time member and former Chair of the Independent Consulting TIG.  I own REAP Change Consultants, a sole proprietorship, and have done many education-related and library evaluation contracts and some non-profit and health consulting.  Due to the importance of climate change during the remainder of my life and career, I’ve redirected my independent consulting to focus on climate change, joined the Environmental Program Evaluation (EPE) TIG, and become the EPE TIG webmaster.

Climate change will impact our lives and those of our children and grandchildren more than COVID-19, and for a much longer period.  Evaluation opportunities abound for independent evaluation consultants of programs and policies related to climate change impacts, beyond just environmental programs. 

Program or policy arena Climate Change Cause/Relation Impacts on Humans
Health, Public Health Global warming; supply chain disruptions due to more severe storms Heat stress on vulnerable humans; increases in disease carrying insects; food scarcity.
Environmental Global warming; rising sea levels; water scarcity in some areas plus excess rainfall in others; ecosystem and ecosystem service changes Lower crop yields; family farm sustainability; crop insurance programs; wildfire and flood increases; emergency and recovery responses; community adaptability. 
International Inter-related United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Impacts of greenhouse gas reduction and economic disruptions on individuals, companies, communities, nation-states; governance changes; migration, and increased conflicts.
Education Ecology and climate change programs (formal and informal); educational delivery changes due to climate change disruptions Efficient and effective communication and teaching; technology use; educational change evaluations.
Transportation Adoption, use, effectiveness and unintended consequences of changing transportation modes Mass transit use of bicycles, and electric vehicles, walking; denser housing; zoning changes; responses to these climate change. 
Diversity, Indigenous cultures Cultural and contextual factors and context of any of the above “Climate justice” impact of new programs and policies on diverse communities; indigenous knowledge and approaches to the environment.

Lesson Learned:  At the National Adaptation Forum 2019 I learned that ecologists and government officials long focused on species survival, species environments, maintenance and restoration of ecosystems are now recognizing how important the human-environment interface is.  The scientists don’t know how to evaluate or change that interface – evaluators do. 

Cool Trick:  Think about climate change programs and policies using a systems perspective.

Hot Tips:  Read and apply principles in Michael Quinn Patton’s Blue Marble Evaluation.  Join associations such as the American Society of Adaptation Professionals or the Association of Climate Change Officers to educate yourself and network with other professionals working with climate change.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Environmental Program Evaluation TIG Week with our colleagues in the Environmental Program Evaluation Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our EPE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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