Looking Ahead to C2025: A Virtual Conference
Highlights Calendar Icon June 4, 2024

Looking Ahead to C2025: A Virtual Conference

Dear CES members:

As we all bask in the afterglow of another successful annual conference, the C2025 Committee is already convening to discuss planning for next year. We anticipate another excellent event of sharing ideas, fostering mutual growth, and continuing to elevate the profession of evaluation in alignment with CES competency domains and Ethical Guidance. C2024 showed us, in many respects, just how collectively powerful we are when we work together to do just this.

Part and parcel of this elevation is thinking laterally and creatively about professional and personal development. This thinking must address questions like how we can make professional development participation financially, geographically, and socially more inclusive; how we can continue to keep pace with the speed at which the field of evaluation must develop; how to best respect and engage with local Indigenous Peoples and their territories/ancestral lands; how to best serve English-speaking and French-speaking individuals involved in evaluation; and how to navigate significant challenges that exist in a world irreversibly shaped by a recent pandemic and novel limitations to time, resources, and energy (both human and environmental).

To meet, and indeed, exceed the expectations of C2025 in this context, we are pleased to announce that C2025 will take place virtually. In holding a virtual conference, we aim to explore new methods of learning, sharing, and elevating the profession that move beyond the simple (and likely unrealistic) recreation of an in-person conference through our computer screens.

In making the unanimous decision to hold C2025 virtually, the CES National Board of Directors was cognizant of strong and diverging member feedback about the relative advantages of virtual and in-person events. This divide in needs and preferences has been evident in feedback provided to the CES National Board from conference delegates and CES Chapters for several years. While “hybrid” events are sometimes proposed, there are technical, logistical, and financial constraints to offering a fully hybrid event that retains important qualities of successful a virtual or in-person convening. 

According to preliminary results from the post-conference survey at C2024, virtual events are perceived as:

  • more affordable, inclusive and accessible for speakers and delegates in remote locations or facing other travel constraints. 
  • more sustainable in practice and ecologically just, due to a lower environmental and financial cost.
  • more flexible, since sessions can be spread over multiple days or shorter sessions throughout the day and presentations can be recorded/re-visited;
  • potentially less predictable or fluid, as sessions are more susceptible to technical issues;
  • less engaging due to shorter attention spans in the online space, and difficulty staying focused for long sessions.
  • less socially enriching than in-person events, due to the highly structured and staggered nature of convening virtually.

In planning the C2025 Program, the Conference Committee will be centralizing this feedback to leverage the accessibility and flexibility of having a virtual conference while mitigating online fatigue and prioritizing engagement. Our mission (which we have chosen to fully accept) is to go ‘outside the box’ and think about new methods and formats that create seamless, solid, and engaging learning opportunities expected of the CES Annual Conference.

This is not to say that in-person events are out. Discussions between Board Members and Chapter Presidents over the past year have indicated significant interest in local opportunities for physical gatherings coinciding with and/or centred around virtual offerings, organized at the Chapter level. This is a very exciting development which may make it more feasible for many more Canadian evaluators and people interested in learning about evaluation to participate with their peers in engaging with C2025.

Beyond Canada, many of our colleagues around the world including the Americas, Europe, and the Global South have indicated a willingness and ability to participate more fulsomely, offering a much wider range of perspectives and knowledge than is otherwise accessible. We look forward to more discussions and ideas that transcend the borders often making it difficult for many folks to attend in-person events and to contribute to them.

While looking even further ahead to C2026, which we anticipate will be in-person, the lessons learned from navigating C2025 will be extremely valuable. As the context and demands of the CES Annual Conference continue to change and develop (much like evaluation), we must change and develop in stepwise fashion to satisfy this new context, and meet these new demands (much like evaluators!).

We hope to see you online in 2025!


C2025 Conference Committee