The 2014 ANZEA conference theme – Our House, Our Whare, Our Fale: Building Strong Evaluation in Aotearoa New Zealand – had a focus on building robust evaluation in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Peter’s presentation led off the afternoon of day two of the conference (8 July).
Valuing the Social Sciences: An agenda for hard times
Peter asked the question, are these hard times for Social Sciences. He posited that Social Sciences are under valued in NZ as evidenced by the reduction in scope and availability of funding for social science research. He also suggested the potential contribution of social science to evidence knowledge claims is not well understood.
“Social science is not well constituted within the New Zealand science system and across or within those ministries and agencies that need such information to develop policy options” (Gluckman, 2011. p. 15)
One of Peter’s key messages was the need to improve our methods – and in particular quantitative methods.
- “We are nearing the point where graduates lack crucial skills
- Our disciplines are in danger of becoming one dimensional
- Unless we take this seriously, others will gladly take the work.”
This lack of quantitative skills is a ‘well kept secret’ in the NZ evaluation community – and Peters analysis and suggestions resonated with conference participants.