Karen Wellington “I don’t know any answers, I only have further questions.”
Yeah, I feel exactly the same. Part of this is just humans figuring out how to manage complex forms of social organisation — something we weren’t designed to do. I definitely wouldn’t argue that we shouldn’t measure anything, and leave what gets funded up to habit and history.
I suppose this (& another piece I’m working on) are really arguments for humility if nothing else, recognising and being willing to accept the wide unknowable space in social impact. It’d be great if it were more acceptable to say “We don’t feel the SDGs are appropriate for, or can capture the work we do here,” or “I know what the data says, but I’m asking you to trust my observations.”
Doing outcomes assessment work in the Arts has really hit this home for me, as the whole purpose of the Arts is to offer narratives that sit outside what we consider legible. Art which has an explicit social purpose can be inauthentic and preachy. Art which leaves a deep impact can be that which is seemingly about, and for, nothing in particular. Yet at the same time, the Arts does have a serious public relevance and accountability problem.
So yes — further questions :)