Anna Baatz

Specialist Team

Anna Baatz

Anna Baatz

Specialist Team

I am a community and education evaluation specialist… Or as I like to say, an ‘evaluation nerd.’ I am currently part time Evaluation Specialist at Canal & River Trust where I am lucky enough to design and manage evaluations on everything from water safety through combatting anti-social behaviour to blue/green health! Whilst also studying a PhD in the effects of a schools intervention on dog welfare in the home environment that considers the validity of widely accepted behaviour change models and theories on the less researched field of children aged 7-11 and their interactions with the family dog.

Previous evaluation lead roles have been with Dogs Trust and even a Premier League Football Foundation! I have led on transformative overhauls of the implementation of strategic MEL processes for organisations by developing Theories of Change, outcome frameworks and multiple large scale quantitative and qualitative impact evaluations with published work. I have supported and consulted to multiple animal welfare education programmes in low and middle-income countries.

I am passionate about the need for organisations to recognise monitoring and evaluation as crucial to their operations and distinct from research more widely; an intrinsic cog in the machine of all behaviour change seeking organisations.

I live in Manchester with my partner and son, have a scruffy dog called Mo, and have a special place in my heart for Indian street dogs.

A Chat with Anna

Tell us a little bit about you and your journey into behaviour change?

I was born into a veterinary family, so animal welfare was in my blood right from the start. In true rebellious teenager fashion, however, I broke away from following the family trade and ‘ran away’ to drama school to train as an actor. Ten years of jobbing (resting) actor toil led to a role in the community and education department of a large arts centre, which taught me a great deal about working with communities. This was followed by several years of freelance teaching work and eventually a lot of travelling.

During my travels I found myself volunteering for various animal welfare and conservation NGOs, slowly coming full circle back to my family routes. I eventually landed an amazing Education Officer role at Dogs Trust. Working expansively within this field for over eight years it quickly came to my attention how the efficacy processes and clarity of outcomes was in its infancy in animal welfare and humane education intervention. So I took it upon myself to up-skill at the brilliant UCL Institute of Education with a Masters in Educational Planning, Economics, and International Development specialising in impact evaluation methods.

Skip forward six years and the returns from my studies there have been momentous. I have had the incredible opportunity to directly utlilise all the skills I gained and continue to gain in this field that is crying out for it, to drive forward education design to maximise human behaviour change for animals, for nature and for the environment and to further my studies! And I hope to continue indefinitely.

Why does the science of behaviour change matter?

Because its widely misunderstood. And approached extremely reductively particularly by the third sector. Humans are not rational creatures. They do not behave in the way that logic would always assume that they would. So even just a basic understanding into this very concept can help programmes immensely. But I would suggest even thinking beyond the famous models like COM-B and Transtheoretical Model, Nudge etc., behaviour change theory straddles so many avenues of science. Economics for one is underutilised in animal welfare and conservation. But yet if you analyse the problems in those fields enough you could pinpoint the economy as a driver of nearly all of them. What drives the economy? Human behaviour!

What is the most inspiring behaviour change intervention you have come across and why?

This has to be anything Richard Thaler or Cass Sunstein. Thaler’s Nobel prize has dramatically raised the profile of nudge economics and brought the concept of behaviour economics more into the generalist consciousness. If we can, we must help those working towards positive environmental, social, and animal welfare changes to understand that humans do not behave rationally, so they do not simply do better because they are told better. I also just like any scientist who writes in a readable style like his. No need for writing that requires brain gymnastics!

What’s your vision for behaviour change for the next five years?

We need to all be in this for the long haul. Monitoring and evaluation has taught me that the world is continuously changing and so must our planning approaches. Hopefully in five years social, environmental, and animal welfare fields will recognise that HBC strategy is not a side thing. But a driving force to EVERYTHING!

Why do you like working with HBCL?

What I love about HBCL is it has become almost a ‘think tank’ for any sector wishing to make positive change for humans, other animals and living species on the planet as a whole; a facilitator of events and safe space where discussion and critical thought can take place. It allows discussion that scratches deeper below the surface of each field of work and in my experience, particularly the field of animal welfare and conservation, which is as complicated as any other social issue in the big messy real world, but a field in which strategy can often be plagued with ‘magical thinking’ and assumption (“if we do X then of course Y will happen”). HBCA has tried to tackle and improve this sector wide culture for several years now and it is wonderful to see it expand and become HBCL so this approach can be taken to an ever-diversifying range of fields.

Top tip for individuals or organisations getting started with behaviour change?

Getting to grips with the basics of behavioural science or Human Behaviour Change Theory is a great start; COM-B, transtheoretical model, nudge etc. But do not end your organisational behaviour change journey at just behavioural science. HBCL have an excellent infographic they use that demonstrates the many, many fields of science and specialism that relate to human behaviour change. Diversifying the technical scientific skills you have in your organisation will bring greater impact returns than simply putting everyone on a human behaviour change course… Oh and evaluate, evaluate, evaluate!

HBCL have been instrumental in much needed shifts in strategizing the world of animal welfare and conservation intervention delivery. Finding them several years ago was a momentous point in my career giving me the opportunity to work with and learn from like-minded individuals with skills in broad and diverse humanities areas that could be applied to the fields. And for recognising the impact that collective approaches can have in upskilling and capacity building. Being a continuing member of the team; working alongside such knowledgeable and committed individuals, would be a true privilege.

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