Time for evaluation

This semester at the Birgit Rausing Centre for Medical Humanities has, as usual, been filled with activities within research, collaboration and education. And, as usual, there have been things we didn’t anticipate. The vast majority have been things that we’ve enjoyed, actively. Others – not so much.

One thing we were prepared for was working on our self-evaluation. Yes, it’s already time (according to the Centre’s regulations) to evaluate the Birgit Rausing Centre for Medical Humanities. The evaluation/assessment criteria were decided in February, the evaluators were appointed in March, the self-assessment report was ready in April (and we had time to discuss the content with “critical friends” and our employees, which was incredibly valuable), the three evaluators received it on May 5 and they will submit their evaluation to our board at the end of September.

The structure of our self-assessment is based on the assessment criteria (no surprise). The assessment criteria are taken from the Centre’s regulations, and it is also the regulations that form the basis of the Centre’s current plan of operations. We decided to write parts of the report as a follow-up and evaluation of our plan of operations. We knew that we’ve been working well, but I was filled with some sort of inner satisfaction when “checking” one delivery goal after another. And see that we are moving in the right direction given our impact goals.

In a work situation where everything is complex, where shortness of time is ever-present, where the level of ambition is constantly exceeds reality, it’s almost a relief to follow a checklist: tick the box = “done”.

During my 20 years (+) in academia, I have been able to see a huge increase in checklists and systems. Sometimes they are necessary. Sometimes they seem to have emerged as one (1) solution to a problem – check, check, check, good, solved, moving on. But if we don’t allow time for conversation, reflection and listening to input and arguments from several different disciplines, then the problem in its entirety remains unsolved. In our evaluation report, we therefore included “SWOT analyses” (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) helping us to navigate (wisely) as a Centre also in future, for example when we compose our next plan of operations or next recruitment plan. Just imagine future operations, including priorities of various kinds, and future recruitments as mere checklists – impossible. Our self-evaluation showed us, without reasonable doubt, that our success depends on that we let authentic interdisciplinary perspectives go into practice.

The blog is taking a summer break now, welcome back at the end of August!

Interpretation of image: Flower bed that did not follow a checklist, but allowed many different seeds to thrive.

June 30, 2023

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