Collaborative Learning

Collaborative Learning Methodology

Our collaborative learning methodology supports CDA’s mission to promote effective and accountable engagements that result in significant, positive, lasting change for people and societies around the world.

CDA is well known for its unique role as convener and facilitator of collaborative learning processes. The primary purpose of these processes is to engage a broad range of practitioners in gathering evidence and identifying practical approaches to complex challenges confronted by organizations practitioners and policymakers operating in fragile and conflict-affected settings.

CDA Collaborative Learning Methodology

What is Unique to a CDA Collaborative Learning Process?

These unique elements ensure that the process findings are of high quality, validated by practitioners and people affected by contexts of conflict, broadly relevant across many contexts, and ready for practical application. The process:

  • Includes extensive evidence gathering from a wide range of people, through qualitative approaches,
  • Enables our partners to share openly and learn with and from each other’s experience,
  • Emphasizes the voices of practitioners and people affected by contexts of conflict,
  • Convenes a range of agencies, practitioners, policy-makers, and companies to analyze evidence together, and
  • Engages partners at all stages.


CDA recently published a briefing paper on the design, monitoring and evaluation (DM&E) of initiatives aimed at preventing or countering violent extremism (P/CVE). The paper applies existing approaches and learnings from DM&E of peacebuilding and development initiatives to the emerging field of P/CVE, and was produced in collaboration with the Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium.

CDA also seeks financial supporters for a new collaborative learning initiative regarding the relevance of P/CVE strategies and programs. The objective of this project is to advance the analytical understanding of what works and what doesn’t work in P/CVE approaches, to test existing theories of change, to strengthen the evidence base, and to ultimately promote more conceptually and practically sound engagements on P/CVE from a policy and practice perspective.

For more information, please contact Anita Ernstorfer, Director of Advisory Services,


CDA, in collaboration with the Conflict Sensitivity Community – Hub, seeks learning partners and financial supporters for a collaborative learning partnership on the monitoring and evaluation of conflict sensitivity, with a view towards increasing application and uptake. Learning will focus on the following question: How can conflict sensitivity efforts be effectively monitored and evaluated, in ways that promote robust accountability and learning at all levels, from providers to local communities to organizational headquarters and donors? Through consultative processes and field-based testing, the project will publish a compendium of promising practices, practical guidelines and tools, relevant to both strategy development and program design for humanitarian assistance, long-term development, and peacebuilding. For further information, or to discuss ideas relevant to this initiative, please contact Michelle Garred, PhD, CDA Senior Advisor for Conflict Sensitivity and Peacebuilding Effectiveness at

How do we decide to initiate a learning process?

CDA is committed to continuous learning in each of its areas of practice. CDA decides to launch a major learning process based on:

  • The relevance and utility of a proposed topic of exploration for practitioners, and
  • the suitability of CDA’s institutional and methodological expertize.

We also undertake more narrowly focused efforts to answer a defined set of questions. These are typically funded through grants from institutional funders, with in-kind support and staff time from partner organizations for case study development, consultations and feedback sessions.

Current collaborative learning processes

Are focused on the questions: How can businesses operate in a conflict sensitive manner in contexts where armed non-state actors are present? What makes feedback loops effective in long-term development, humanitarian and peacebuilding programs? and, What are the potential roles of businesses in addressing the drivers of conflict? Dig deeper into these topics in the highlights section.

In 2016 we are exploring opportunities for initiating collaborative learning of these questions: What is the intersection between gender and conflict sensitivity? and, How can conflict sensitivity be monitored and evaluated? We always welcome suggestions for issues ripe for future investigation.

Isabella Jean

Isabella Jean

Director of Collaborative Learning and Evaluation view profile

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