Welcome to the first issue of the Evaluation Journal of Australasia for 2023. While the worst of COVID-19 is behind us, the lessons learned from evaluation work in the pandemic, continue to be important – and this is reflected in two of our articles in this issue. And of course, while the pragmatics of working in COVID-19 environment are still fresh in our minds, my own view is that as evaluators we should be using our learnings to generate theoretical knowledge that enables us to generalise and think critically – if not creatively too – about change, complexity, policy, challenging contexts, power, ethics and philosophical positions of being, valuing and knowing. Too often, evaluation is criticised for its inability to generate new knowledge, to build theory and to generalise beyond a program, policy or intervention (see Wanzer, 2021, for a useful comparison of research and evaluation). We should – or at least could – be asking ourselves (and commissioners of evaluation) what impact our work has on the development of theories of social change, of philosophical positions within intercultural practice, and of the role that power plays to influence policy and program outcomes. As evaluators and authors, I believe it is important to challenge false stereotypes of evaluation and promote the deep thinking work that evaluators do...
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