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Dr Mat Walton PhD, DPH, BA (Hons)

Adjunct Senior Lecturer

School of Health Sciences

I work in the Social Systems Team at the Institue of Environmental Science adn Research Limited (ESR).  I come from a professional background of social policy analysis within local and central government, and an academic background of social policy and public health. My interests lie in the application of systems science and complexity theory to social, enviornmental and policy research.

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  • PhD - University of Otago (2010)
  • Post-Grad Diploma in Public Health - University of Otago (2002)
  • BA (Hons) - Victoria University of Wellington (1999)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

Current research focusses on the application of complexity theory to public health policy, intervention design and evaluation. 



Health and Well-being

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Applied Sociology, Program Evaluation and Social Impact Assessment (160801):
Medical And Health Sciences (110000):
Policy and Administration (160500):
Public Health and Health Services (111700):
Sociology (160800): Studies In Human Society (160000)


Public health policy; social policy; health promotion; complexity theory 

Research Projects

Completed Projects

Project Title: Developing complex evaluation strategies for wicked problems

This research seeks to apply complexity theory to the development of policy evaluation methods. Particular types of policy problems, such as reducing rates of obesity or family violence, can be considered `wicked¿ problems. `Wicked¿ policy problems cannot be easily defined, and are unlikely to have a single or simple solution. Effective policies for such problems may vary across geographic and demographic communities. This variation poses a challenge for evaluating policies to inform government investment. Several authors have discussed the likely benefits of complexity theory informed evaluation, but there are few practical examples of its application. The proposed research will: review current and emerging evaluation practices; interview leaders in the field of evaluation and complexity theory; develop evaluation scenarios for two policy case studies to identify possible evaluation methods; and, test these through a workshop with evaluation practitioners and users. The results will provide a guide to evaluation approaches for 'wicked' problems consistent with complexity theory. Strengths and weaknesses of approaches, potential barriers, and implications for policy and intervention design will be considered. This research will inform evaluation practice and further research regarding complexity theory and public policy.
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Date Range: 2012 - 2015

Funding Body: Marsden Fund - Fast Start

Project Team:

Teaching and Supervision

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Co-supervisor of:

  • 2015 - Eva Neely - Doctor of Philosophy
    Moving beyond Nutrients- Nurturing Young People's Social Health and School Connectedness through Food

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