Current as of January 23, 2018


PADM 5345. Evaluation of International Programs and Projects


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The course addresses how to plan, manage and evaluate programs and projects undertaken by international public and non-governmental organizations.  It focuses on results-based management, which is the dominant approach taken by international organizations and bilateral development agencies. The approach is applied to programs of development cooperation and humanitarian assistance as well as the regular programs of organizations dealing with such diverse functions as regime creation, monitoring of human rights, trade regulation and elimination of weapons of mass destruction.

The course was taught from Spring 2003-Spring 2012 at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs of Syracuse University. It has been taught at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs since Spring 2013 and is being taught again in Spring 2018.


Professor Mathiason in 2011

Dr. John Mathiason's background

This course is offered by John Mathiason (, Adjunct Professor at CIPA. He is also Managing Director of Associates for International Management Services, a consulting company providing advice and training to international organizations and not-for-profit institutions on results-based management planning and evaluation, including the United Nations Development Group, the United Nations Division for Social Policy and Development, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, the United Nations Office for Internal Oversight, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the World Meteorological Organization, the International Labour Organization, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the International Social Science Council, the AARP, Disabled People's International, the SSM Foundation of the Dominican Republic, the Ministry of Family, Youth and Children of the Government of Panama, the Equal Opportunity Commission of Hong Kong, the United Nations Development Programme in Ecuador, Architecture for Humanity in Haiti, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Club of Madrid. He was the team leader of the Independent External Evaluation of the ILO Evaluation Function that was considered by the ILO Governing Body in November 2010 and team leader of the review of the Management and Accountability System of the United Nations Development System in 2011. He was the lead external consultant to support the Intersessional Working Group of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification in the mid-term evaluation of the UNCCD Strategy (2008-2018). He is a member of the External Evaluation Panel of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and leader of the external reviews of evaluations by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the assessment of the evaluations of evaluations of UNICEF, and was consultant to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on performance measurement.

He was a staff member of the United Nations Secretariat for thirty years, starting as a technical assistance expert in evaluation of agrarian reform programs and in his last ten years as Deputy Director of the Division for the Advancement of Women, responsible for managing support to negotiations leading up to the Fourth World Conference on Women including involvement of NGO's. He has taught and written extensively on international governance issues, including governing the Internet, where he has been a member of the Internet Governance Project, and effective management of international arms control verification regimes. He is co-author of a book on the Elimination ofWeapons of Mass Destruction: Prospects for Effective International Verification, published by Palgrave in March 2005, Invisible Governance: International Secretariats in Global Politics published by Kumarian Press in January, 2007 and Internet Governance: The New Frontier of Global Institutions by Routledge in 2008. He analyzes the General Assembly in the Annual Review of UN Affairs, published by Oxford University Press. He was an Adjunct Professor of Public Administration at the Wagner Graduate School of Public Administration at New York University and later was Professor of International Relations at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs of Syracuse University. He is an editor-in-chief of the Journal of International Organizations Studies. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Synopsis of the Course

Planning and evaluating programs and projects run by international organizations is particularly complex, since the organizations typically have only an indirect effect because they must work with and through sovereign governments and other organizations.  The increasing importance of these programs for national officials as well as international managers has increased the need to have staff well trained in results-based management, including evaluation, under these conditions.  For this reason it is particularly relevant for mid-career officials and for entry-level professionals seeking careers in the international public sector.

After a short introduction to basic concepts used in results-based management, the course moves to conceptual material on the qualitative differences between international programs and national programs in terms of context.  It shows how often vague objectives can be made measurable.  It examines the main methodological tools used in the planning and evaluation of international programs and presents a series of case studies of different types of evaluations: of a World Bank project, a development project implemented by a non-governmental organization, a humanitarian assistance program, a program to support intergovernmental decision-making, and a program to verify the elimination of a weapon of mass destruction. It includes a simulation of an evaluation of a United Nations system program.

For each session, participants will be given readings, will read a lecture on the subject and prepare a brief exercise based on a simulation of a results-based management evaluation that will continue for most of the course.  Then, they will participate in either a live discussion or an on-line chat with the professor focusing on the main questions raised in the readings and lecture, as well in the simulation.  The course project will be to design the terms of reference for an evaluation of an international program or project, or a national project supported by an international input, that the participant knows personally.

There are ample resources on the Internet but the textbook for the course is a good summaary of existing practice, particularly in the World Bank. Evaluation training material prepared by the different organizations will be used.

Ideally, the course should be preceded by PADM 5450. International Public and NGO Management, which is an overview of management in the international public sector and emphasizes skills in strategic planning.




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John R. Mathiason.
Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 John R. Mathiason. All rights reserved.
Revised: February 19, 2018