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Home >> Projects >> Projects by Theme >> Seminar Series on Monitoring and Evaluation in International Development

Seminar Series on Monitoring and Evaluation in International Development

This interdisciplinary series, funded by Penn’s Provost’s Interdisciplinary Seminar Fund, and organized together with the Graduate School of Education, the School of Medicine, and Wharton, will explore the field of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) in global development work. M&E has often been a neglected element of program execution, yet as international development work has expanded – an estimated 2.3 trillion dollars have been spent on programs in health, media, agriculture, literacy, and civic education over the last few decades – program implementers and donors have come under increased pressure to demonstrate the utility of the programs they develop and fund.

This growing demand among development agencies for studies that measure impact has consequences for the university. It drives researchers to think more about the outcomes development programs seek to achieve, to monitor sustainability, and to understand the impact of both successful and failed project objectives within and outside of their discipline.

More needs to be done to integrate evaluation studies into the academic framework; to understand the implications of evaluations for current theories of behavior and social change, health, and democratization; and to gain access to data developed in the evaluation framework. Even successful, well-managed projects will lose their legitimacy, and ultimately their funding, if they can't produce discernible results and show how they have led to an improvement in development conditions and in the lives of the people they are intended to serve.

A focus on monitoring and evaluation can serve as a foundation for sharing and collaboration among researchers who are working across disciplines on issues of democracy and governance, the advancement of millennium development goals, and a myriad of public policy concerns.

By providing a space for interdisciplinary discussion and information sharing, this series will expose students and faculty to the ways in which different disciplines apply and think about M&E, and provide a platform for engaging with the challenges that development organizations and donors face in evaluating project impact and in enhancing project impact and sustainability. Through lectures and discussions on existing and emerging research methods – both qualitative and quantitative – this series will seek to obtain a comprehensive understanding of how different development organizations and researchers are using M&E strategies, and to evaluate the advantages and problems within the various models.


Speakers / events:

February 21: Evaluating US Foreign Assistance Programs: Perspectives from the State Department with Krishna Kumar, Senior Evaluation Advisor, Office of the Director of Foreign Assistance Resources, U.S. State Department

February 21: Workshop on Indicators with Krishna Kumar

March 12: Monitoring and evaluation of media programs in conflict-affected regions. One day session at the U.S. Institute of Peace  

April 2: Dissemination and Implementation Research in Low and Middle Income Countries with Laura Murray

April 11The Goldilocks Problem: Finding a 'Right- Fit' Approach to Monitoring and Evaluation in Development with Dean Karlan, Professor of Economics at Yale University

May 1:  Evaluating Democracy Assistance Grantmaking with Rebekah Usatin, Manager for Program Monitoring and Evaluation at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington DC

Nov 8: Research at BBC Media Action: Putting our audience first with Kavita Abraham-Dowsing, Director of Research and Learning, Anna Godfrey, Head of Research Programmes, Zoe Fortune, Senior Research Manager

Nov 22: Evaluation Cultures: Sense-Making in Complex Times with Penny hawkins, Head of Evaluation at Department International Development

Dec 11: When Expectations for Results Come Too Early: Innovative Measures and Methods, with Julia Coffman, Founder of the Center for Evaluation Innovation