Is it working, and for whom? Evaluation of DMDU engagements

by Katharine J. Mach

Support for decision-making on issues with large stakes, uncertainties, and differences of priorities has increasingly emphasized engagement: ongoing interactions between analysts and stakeholders. The tools supporting these engagements often incorporate advances in decision-making under deep uncertainty. Through such processes, questions are refined, goals are redefined, and points of failure explored. However, the uncertainties also include the ways in which these processes are working in support of decision-making—and for whom. The juxtaposition of increasing climate change and generally incremental responses, such as yet another seawall when effective climate responses must be multifaceted, has led some to conclude that engagement processes may be falling short. And the increasing discord around environmental management benefiting the powerful, rather than the most affected, has raised notable concerns.

For all of these reasons, in the upcoming annual meeting, we are bringing together experts and practitioners in DMDU engagement and evaluation frameworks and tools. The session is appropriately titled, “Is it working, and for whom? Evaluation of DMDU engagements.” It includes three presentations at the nexus of evaluation and DMDU engagement, along with an open-ended moderated discussion.

Rob Lempert and Sara Turner will present their work on engaging different worldviews through quantitative decision support. Gabrielle Wong-Parodi and colleagues will introduce emerging best practices in the evaluation of decision support tools and engagement. Alison Meadow will discuss evaluation frameworks and tools that could be applied in DMDU engagement. And finally, Flannery Dolan and Jonathan Lamontagne will extend consideration of the ways in which beliefs and models shape decision-making in engagement processes. Understanding the impact of DMDU engagement is important for matching tools with contexts of decision-making and for improving their effectiveness. Please join us in reflecting upon best practices as they are currently understood and suggestions for deepening understanding of how to evaluate the increasingly diverse set of DMDU engagements.


About this Blog Post:

This blog post is part of a series of posts contributed by the chairs of the 2020 DMDU Annual Meeting. For more information about the Annual Meeting, including registration, visit our website at We hope to (virtually) see you soon!

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