jeph mathias

development fields in which my skills flourish

 With projects that resonates with my values I'll work in Evaluation, Monitoring, Design and staff capacity.  For me these are a continuum rather than separate specialities- evaluation is only relevant to inform design, good design deliberately builds in monitoring and a way to iteratively respond to that monitoring etc. Its all one specialty which I love. My preferred domain for that specialty is complexity- situations in which  your important vision  comes up against things that make it impossible to predict the results of interventions. Features that create complexity include:  

  1. A rapidly changing context,
  2. Multiple incommensurable modulators -e.g.  Buddhist beliefs, grazing strategies, climate change, government policy, tourist demands and the price of petrol. These can't be solved on the same scale, their interactions are unpredictable but all could  be critical to a conservation project 
  3. Spatial variations in the area of work e.g. rainforest and rubber plantations in the development space,  both critically important but operating on different rules. One space is a monoculture, trees in rows and 9-5 laborers from the lowlands, pesticides and gins used to keep species diversity down. In the other spaceis a species diverse biological system in which indigenous people hunt and gather in a subsistence model. 
  4. Stochastic variability e.g. climate perturbations that have a critical impact on the people you work with. Any situation, biological or human,  with critical dependence on initial conditions and random variability (i.e. all of life) is unpredictable. 

If any of these contextual characteristics is important for your project it will be complex- and I would enjoy it. 

OK, so if complexity is my preferred domain, in what fields do I have skills and experience? As a doctor I have had lots of experience with health projects but I define my skills as primarily in development now. I can apply my scientific and social science training to almost any area. I particularly enjoy , and bring something unique to, projects at the human/environment interface. What does that jargony phrase mean? In fact all human activities impact the environment and that always feeds back on our well being so all of humanity is  critically at the human environment interface. However some projects deliberately work with this truth e.g.   participatory conservation, rural livelihood,  climate change adaptation, indigenous people's development trajectories, population health initiatives etc. Because these kind of projects combine my social science and natural science thinking, training, experience and interest I am particularly good - or at least energized- when engaged in these fields. 

Indigenous health in the Colombian jungle with MSF : meningitis, indigenous beliefs, western medicine, multicultural team, remote location, guerrilla war, tropical heat = complexity city!

Indigenous health in the Colombian jungle with MSF : meningitis, indigenous beliefs, western medicine, multicultural team, remote location, guerrilla war, tropical heat = complexity city!

Please contact me if you think I might contribute to your important vision, particularly if you are trying to realise that vision in a complex space. If your field is human well being, environmental health or a combination of  the two  that will really excite me.