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Jeremy Braithwaite

Greetings, fellow AEAers! I’m Jeremy Braithwaite, PhD, community evaluator and AEA enthusiast. Like many of us, my evaluation training was very much discipline-based and skewed heavily toward quantitative approaches. Randomized control trials and statistical models were the gold standards of evidence. Conversations about ethics were usually confined to the pages of IRB applications. Methodologies were entirely “objective.” When I began working with Indigenous communities, I quickly learned that all the evaluation training I’d had did not prepare me for working in these contexts.

There has been a persistent disconnect between the field of evaluation and Indigenous epistemologies, philosophies, and worldviews. Federal mandates requiring science-based definitions of evidence often dismiss the cultural context of program implementation, evaluation design, and ethical issues/legal requirements of Tribal Nations. As evaluators strive to become “culturally responsive” and promote “diversity and inclusion,” it is imperative that we do not marginalize or alienate the very communities and people we serve. A transformative framework can yield more inclusive evaluation practice.

Hot Tip: Reframe the Ethics Conversation

Transformative paradigms are predicated on a code of ethics that promotes cultural respect, social justice and human rights. Therefore, in addition to considering how your evaluation methods will protect human subjects, equal attention must to paid to how your work can further social change, as well as uplift the sovereignty of individual Tribal Nations. When working with Indigenous communities, questions to consider include: How do I honor Indigenous culture and Indigenous ways of knowing and how might issues of privilege and power interfere with this process? What will the community gain by participating in the evaluation? The National Congress of American Indians’ values and principles can help in constructing these questions.

Hot Tip: Avoid Distancing

The evaluator as an objective, unbiased scientist may be the archetype of empirically-driven evaluation but can be counterproductive and potentially damaging when serving Indigenous communities. Indigenous people are their own resource experts in their communities and these voices must be engaged throughout the evaluation planning process. Evaluators must establish an interactive relationship based on authenticity and trust with Indigenous communities, as well as privilege any cultural protocols and ordinances developed by sovereign Tribal governments. Dialoguing with Tribal leadership throughout all evaluation phases is key.

Hot Tip: Engage in Reciprocity

I’ve heard Indigenous community members say “evaluators come and go, we never hear anything about the outcomes, and our problems worsen.” Knowledge sharing is the keynote of Indigenous epistemologies and concerted efforts to bring findings back to communities is a must. One way to do this is to organize community potluck events and invite Tribal leadership and the broader community to attend evaluation briefings. From personal experience, I’ve found that hosting such events is a great way to verify conclusions, contextualize “surprise” findings, and secure collective permission to proceed with next steps. And it can be great fun!

Rad Resources:

For a foundational background on transformative evaluation, read this article by Donna Mertens.
For an overview of Indigenous methodologies, review this article by Indigenous scholar Renee Pualani Louis.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation (IPE)  TIG week. All posts this week are contributed by members of the IPE Topical Interest Group. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Ꭳ Ꮟ Ᏺ (OSiYo), I am Mark Parman, program evaluator for the Community and Cultural Outreach Department of the Cherokee Nation. As a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, I have a view of the American Evaluation Association attempts to bridge the gaps between those of different races and classes not common within AEA and brought into focus as Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day. During the first AEA Dialogue on Race & Class, Dr. Melvin Hall asked, “What do we need to know and understand so that we don’t perpetuate in-equality”? When it comes to Indigenous peoples, there is quite a lot that the dominate society does not know or understand.

Hot Tips:

Coming into an Indigenous community, understand that the Americas are our land. We have lived here for as long as 30,000 years. The European invaded just over 500 years ago. Our cities were equal to those of the world. Cahokia had a population of 20,000 in AD1000 making it larger than London. Along with great cities we built knowledge of astronomy, agriculture and arts.

Between 1452 and 1493, Catholic Popes, issued decrees declaring inhabitants of Africa and the Americas, Pagans, not deserving the right to own land and could be enslaved, converted, or killed. These papal bulls are still the basis for Indian Law in the U.S.

Despite these efforts, we still exist as sovereign nations. Many were recognized by European leaders before there was a US. My Cherokee Nation entered into the family of nations with a treaty in 1721.

Diversity of Indigenous Nations most also be understood. There is no Indigenous culture and especially no “American Indian” culture in which to become competent. From the Absentee-Shawnee to the Zuni, there are a wide range of cultures, histories, languages and spiritual beliefs. The United States recognizes 567 sovereign Indigenous nations. In Canada that number is 617 First Nations. Each nation is unique and sovereign.

Cool Tricks?

The American Thanksgiving is a myth. Wampanoag warriors, in 1621, investigating gunfire at a Pilgrim village found them celebrating the harvest. As an act of peace, the Wampanoag, were fed. This was not repeated.

In 1636, a murdered man was discovered in Plymouth. Major John Mason’s soldiers killed over 400 neighboring Pequots, including the women and children, blaming them for the murder. The Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony proclaimed: “From that day forth, shall be a day of celebration and thanks giving for subduing the Pequots.” For the next 100 years on Thanksgiving Day, they honored the bloody massacre.

Lessons Learned: As you enter an Indigenous community there will be much you will not understand. Within my own Nation, there are words, customs and histories that I do not know. In these cases, ask questions. This is the human thing to do.

As the expert in evaluation, bring that knowledge. But our communities have much to offer you as well. Ask questions so that your work can be responsive to that community’s culture. Together we can sustain our communities.

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The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation (IPE)  TIG week. All posts this week are contributed by members of the IPE Topical Interest Group. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Nicole Bowman

Koolamalsi Njoosuk wuk Elànkumàkik (Warm Greetings Colleagues/Relatives). I’m Nicole Bowman (Mohican/Lunaape) and the current AEA IPE TIG Chair, Member of the AEA International Work Group (IWG) Team, and Task Force Member of the EvalIndigenous Network. Today’s blog highlights some of the contributions by Indigenous people that happen year-round. Let’s celebrate, appreciate, and commemorate during this Colonial/Federal holiday the many ways Indigenous people are impacting the field of evaluation!

  • IPE TIG on AEA’s Diversity Task Force:

The seven-member AEA Diversity Task Force on Member Engagement, Diversity, and Leadership Development began in January 2017. Chaired by Drs. Robin Miller and Melvin Hall, IPE TIG is represented by Dr. Nicole Bowman.

  • IPE TIG on EvalPartners’ Global Initiative:

The third EvalPartners Global Forum was held in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic from April 26-28, 2017.  Drs. Bowman, Cram, and Bremner (amongst others) are all part of the EvalIndigenous Task Force.  Dr. Bowman is also a member of AEA’s International Work Group.  EvalIndigenous testimonies more can be seen on the EvalPartner’s You Tube channel.

  • IPE TIG through CREA:

IPE TIG was well represented at the 4th International Culturally Relevant Assessment and Evaluation Conference September 27-29, 2017 in Chicago IL.  Pre-conference and in conference sessions, keynotes, and panelists on the AEA Diversity Dialog hosted by CREA all included IPE TIG leadership or members.  Drs. Bowman, Cram, LaFrance, Nelson-Barber, Tibbets, and Wehipeihana (all IPE TIG members) are also CREA Research Affiliates.

Hot Tip:

EvalIndigenous and IPE TIG contributions, resources, and activities are always shared via our website and social media.

Cool Trick:

Become an IPE TIG member (open to anyone) and get our newsletter and so much more!

Lesson Learned:

Being Indigenous has multiple and complex cultural, language, social, and governance meanings depending on who you ask and the community context from where on Mother Earth you are from as an Indigenous person.  Through the global membership and participation of IPE TIG and EvalIndigenous there is always growth, developing new relationships, and a deepening appreciation for our vast diversity.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation (IPE)  TIG week. All posts this week are contributed by members of the IPE Topical Interest Group. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Erica Roberts

Hello and welcome to the Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation (IPE) TIG Week (November 19-24)! I am Erica Blue Roberts, a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, IPE TIG Program Chair, and AEA GEDI alumnus. And I’m Nicole Bowman (Mohican/Lunaape) the IPE TIG Chair. As we approach the Colonial celebration and Federal holiday of Thanksgiving, let us reflect on, redefine our understandings, and redirect our behaviors regarding the Original inhabitants of Turtle Island (North America) and Kukuna Auhy (Mother Earth). Together we can move from cultural appropriation and romanticized notions of the first Thanksgiving, to a cultural appreciation for the ongoing contributions by Indigenous people that isn’t limited by a holiday or season.

The IPE TIG was established in 2006 to give voice and recognition to the Indigenous members of the American Evaluation Association (AEA) and begin to infuse Indigenous evaluation practices into more mainstream evaluation. Indigenous evaluation approaches were developed as culturally-responsive ways of evaluating programs in Indigenous communities. Indigenous evaluation often values and incorporates Indigenous knowledge, recognizes the negative history of evaluation imposed on many Indigenous communities, and respects tribal and data sovereignty. For more information about Indigenous evaluation, look to the work of IPE TIG Founder – Joan France, IPE TIG Founder – Fiona Cram, IPE TIG Chair – Nicky Bowman, and IPE TIG Program Chair – Erica Roberts.

The IPE TIG strives to achieve the following goals to improve evaluation practices and methods:

  • Developing and disseminating knowledge that helps assure that evaluations in which Indigenous people are among the major stakeholders are culturally responsive and respectful of their interests and rights.
  • Creating a venue for Indigenous evaluators and others working in Indigenous contexts to participate in discourse about evaluation models and methods that support Indigenous values, practices, and ways of knowing.
  • Mentoring and emerging evaluators interested in evaluation in various Indigenous contexts.

This week you will get a chance to read about a variety of Indigenous evaluation topics from the TIG Leadership and its members. We chose to blog this week as it is the week of the Thanksgiving holiday, a time when many misconceptions about American Indians and Alaska Natives are shared. We hope that by providing you with an overview of Indigenous evaluation, you may be inspired to look into other ways that Indigenous knowledge can be integrated into mainstream practices and understandings.

Rad Resources:

To learn more about the IPE TIG, please visit our website., become a member, and check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

No More Pranks-Giving:  How the Evaluation Community Can Start Rebuilding Relations with Indigenous Communities

Dr. Adrienne Keene (Cherokee) Native Appropriations website and blog is an interactive forum for discussing representations and contributions of Native peoples.

Rethinking Schools Blog Archives on “Rethinking Thanksgiving:  Myths and Misgivings

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation (IPE) TIG week. All posts this week are contributed by members of the IPE Topical Interest Group. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Hello! My name is Amelia Ruerup, I am Tlingit, originally from Hoonah, Alaska although I currently reside in Fairbanks, Alaska.  I have been working part-time in evaluation for over a year at Evaluation Research Associates and have spent approximately five years developing my understanding of Indigenous Evaluation through the mentorship and guidance of Sandy Kerr, Maori from New Zealand.  I consider myself a developing evaluator and continue to develop my understanding of what Indigenous Evaluation means in an Alaska Native context.

I have come to appreciate that Alaska Natives are historic and contemporary social innovators who have always evaluated to determine the best ways of not only living, but thriving in some of the most dynamic and at times, harshest conditions in the world.  We have honed skills and skillfully crafted strict protocols while cultivating rich, guiding values.  The quality of our programs, projects, businesses and organizations is shaped by our traditions, wisdom, knowledge and values.  It is with this lens that Indigenous Evaluation makes sense for an Alaska Native context as a way to establish the value, worth and merit of our work where Alaska Native values and knowledge both frame and guide the evaluation process.

Amidst the great diversity within Alaska Native cultures we share certain collective traditions and values.  As Alaska Native peoples, we share a historical richness in the use of oral narratives.  Integral information, necessary for thriving societies and passing on cultural intelligence, have long been passed on to the next generation through the use of storytelling. It is also one commonality that connects us to the heart of Indigenous Evaluation.  In the Indigenous Evaluation Framework book, the authors explain that, “Telling the program’s story is the primary function of Indigenous evaluation…Evaluation, as story telling, becomes a way of understanding the content of our program as well as the methodology to learn from our story.” To tell a story is an honor.  In modern Alaska Native gatherings, we still practice the tradition of certain people being allowed to speak or tell stories.  This begs the question: Who do you want to tell your story and do they understand the values that are the foundation and framework for your program?  

Hot Tip: Context before methods.  It is essential to understand the Alaska Native values and traditions that are the core of Alaska Native serving programs, institutions and organizations.  Indigenous Evaluation is an excellent approach to telling our stories.

Rad Resource: The Alaskool website hosts a wealth of information on Alaska Native cultures and values.  This link will take you to a map of “Indigenous Peoples and Languages of Alaska”

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Alaska Evaluation Network Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AKEN members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Greetings! I’m Lilian Chimuma, a Doctoral student at the University of Denver. I have a background in research methods and a strong interest in the practice and application of Evaluation. I believe cultural competence is central to the practice of evaluation and it varies contextually. I am recently exploring the context and scope of evaluation practice in developing countries.

Evaluations in developing Nations are amenably founded on and informed by Western paradigms. Many of these models reflect particular philosophies specific to the environments and conditions surrounding them, rather than those for the nations in which they are applied. Research and related discussions highlight concerns regarding the practice of evaluation in developing countries, including: cultural, contextual, and political reasons. Considering AEA’s stance on cultural competence, and its role and value in quality evaluation, it is essential to review evaluation practices across nations adopting evaluation paradigms developed in or by evaluators from regions other than their own. Such practices would advance social justice relative to indigenous cultures.

I focus on Africa in this discussion, highlighting some of the issues, and efforts towards the practice of evaluation.

Hot Tips:

The African Evaluation Association (AfrEA): Since its inception, AfrEA has grown and expanded its visibility within and beyond the continent. Among issues discussed by AfrEA members, the practice of evaluation given diverse cultural contexts on the continent stands out. Specifically, factors impacting the practice of evaluation on the continent include:

Lessons Learned:

  • Evaluation is vastly evolving in Africa considering cultural and contextual factors.
    • This is promising with implications for more actionable and practical evaluations.
    • Support for similar initiatives across other developing nations would advance and promote the growth and practice of evaluation, hence implications for cultural competence.
  • Evaluations should respect the culture, and not necessarily adopt evaluation frameworks coming from other cultures. Especially when they may not be appropriate!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating International and Cross-Cultural (ICCE) TIG Week with our colleagues in the International and Cross-Cultural Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our ICCE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Vidhya Shanker

Vidhya Shanker

Greetings from Vidhya Shanker, independent evaluation consultant and PhD candidate in Evaluation Studies at the University of Minnesota.

Intersectionality is sometimes misunderstood and misused to suggest that oppression based on gender is the same as—or better or worse than—oppression based on race, class, ability status, or other dimensions along which society structures power dynamics. Understanding oppression as interlocking systems, however, revolutionizes mainstream feminism, which is traced to the Suffragette Movement. Today’s blog entry covers intersectionality’s origins, meaning, and applications for evaluators conducting situational analyses.

Excerpt from pg 96 of Anna Julia Cooper's 1892 book A Voice from the South. By a Black Woman of the South

While the experiences and perspectives underlying intersectionality grew from centuries of Black Feminist Thought and indigenous/ postcolonial/ third world feminisms, legal scholar and originator of #SayHerName Kimberlé Crenshaw named and developed the concept in 1989. Crenshaw analyzed the failure of current legal tools to address the discrimination experienced by an African American woman who was denied employment by an automobile plant. The courts said that the plant did employ African Americans—as manual labor; and the plant did employ women—as receptionists. Claiming discrimination on the basis of race and gender simultaneously, they said, was double-dipping.

Prevailing understandings of identity prevented the courts from seeing that all the African Americans employed were men and all the women employed were white. Presumably, the plant considered African American women ill-suited for physical labor because they are women, and ill-suited for public-facing positions because they are African American. Intersectionality would further suggest that the extent to which the plaintiff was perceived as a woman is inherently racialized and the extent to which she was perceived as African American is gendered.

A critical race theorist, Crenshaw was less interested in the defendant’s intent than in the disparate impact of laws that are rooted in constructions of identity as unilateral and fixed. Such understandings allow those experiencing sub-ordination at the intersection of multiple dimensions to fall through the cracks. Crenshaw stated explicitly that intersectionality is not unique to African American women or specific to race and gender.

Identity & experiences of systemic oppression are multidimensional, not additive

Hot Tip: Intersectional Situational Analyses

Everyone’s interests are constituted by identification with multiple social groups—we are all sub-ordinated by some systems of oppression and super-ordinated by others. Unlike the phrase “double-minority,” intersectionality conceptualizes identity as greater than the sum of its parts. Intersectional analyses involve examining how sub-ordination and super-ordination play out in a situation along multiple dimensions. For example, how is one’s experience of hetero-patriarchy in a situation inflected by how they are racialized and classed? How one is one’s experience of white supremacy or ableism in a situation inflected by how they are gendered and sexualized? Intersectionality centers the confluence to ensure that those sub-ordinated along multiple dimensions in a situation don’t fall through the cracks.

Look for Parts 2 and 3 for Intersectionality in Program Theory and Evaluation, respectively.

Rad Resource: Rinku Sen’s How to Do Intersectionality discusses intersectional analyses in movement organizing.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Feminist Issues in Evaluation (FIE) TIG Week with our colleagues in the FIE Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our FIE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Greetings! I’m Vidhya Shanker, a doctoral candidate in Evaluation Studies at the University of Minnesota. Writing during Thanksgiving week, from the birthplace of the American Indian Movement—surrounded by the largest urban Native and largest refugee communities–as the daughter of immigrants from a colonized country, I offer this exploration of culture to everyone committed to struggles for self-determination. Because I represent the settler in this colonial state, I frame it in terms of colonization, not indigeneity.

Since AEA members approved the Statement on Cultural Competence in 2011, many efforts demonstrate evaluators’ interest in cultural competence. This led me to ask:

  • When do evaluators draw from culture in ways that strengthen colonized groups’ enactment of self-determination?
  • When do evaluators deploy culture in ways that reinforce colonial dynamics?

Lesson Learned: Culture is slippery.

We often call differences between colonized groups and institutions built by/ for dominant groups “cultural.” This suggests that a difference in culture is the problem, when the problem is actually a difference in power. Dominant groups have long learned about colonized groups’ cultures to advance the colonizing project. This led me to ask:

  • Is the competency that evaluators need really cultural? Or is it critical—the competency to analyze the exercise of power?

Lesson Learned: Agency matters.

Practicing one’s culture under conditions of cultural imperialism represents a decolonizing act. When dominant groups take the cultural practices of colonized groups, culture loses its emancipatory power. Evaluators from dominant groups who incorporate decontextualized elements of colonized groups’ cultures into their evaluation practice risk engaging in cultural appropriation and reproducing the colonial relationship between the knower and the known.

For example, interdependence is sometimes fetishized as part of colonized groups’ “culture” that can be incorporated into otherwise conventional evaluations to demonstrate cultural competence. But interdependence is more than cultural: It is legal, political, economic, social, environmental, and spiritual. Understanding and treating people and nature as relatives rather than resources in all these realms would mean the demise of the settler colony in which we live.

Hot Tip:

Every evaluator can reflect on our motivations for seeking–and the impact of exercising–cultural competence. Depending on our social location, are we displacing colonized groups’ knowledge and agency?

Culture is not a static “thing” attached to people. Colonized groups have survived by individually and collectively developing the ability to change our ways of speaking, behaving, thinking, depending on the context, while maintaining ties to our communities and histories.

This ability to respond interculturally has become necessary in institutions that are led and evaluated by an increasingly professionalized class who often shares no frame of reference with participants. Institutions have long asked individuals who can respond interculturally to facilitate or defuse situations that they failed to anticipate without necessarily changing institutionalized dynamics of dominance. The ability is now considered worth learning among individuals from dominant groups. Like culture, though, cultural competence risks becoming commodified when sought by dominant groups pursuing the professional rewards that certification ushers in.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation (IPE)  TIG week. All posts this week are contributed by members of the IPE Topical Interest Group. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Tena Koutou (Greetings all),

We are Fiona Cram, Director of Katoa Ltd and Editor-in-Chief of Aotearoa New Zealand’s own Evaluation Matters– He Take Tō  Te Aromatai, and Aneta Cram, Masters of Evaluation student and current Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation TIG Program Co-Chair, from Aotearoa New Zealand. We are both affiliated with Ngāti Pāhauwera and Ngāti Kahungunu iwi (tribes) on the east coast of the North Island.

During Thanksgiving week, we would like to extend greetings and aroha (love) to our Native relations in the United States of America and around the globe.

Thinking about the importance of research and evaluation as a space of development and strength for global indigenous peoples, we would like to highlight a few key journals and recent articles to support your work.

Hot Tip:

Did you know that AEA have two evaluation journals that publish quarterly? As members of AEA, you get free online access to past and current journal articles for New Directions for Evaluation and The American Journal of Evaluation.

Rad Resource # 1: New Directions for Evaluation

Check out:

Discusses building evaluation capacity in complex environments. Looks at evaluation in China, India and Chile.

Joan La France explores cultural competency when working in “Indian Country.”

Rad Resource # 2: American Journal of Evaluation

Check out:

Alaska Native program evaluators discuss their journey of developing a vision for building evaluator capacity in their communities and cross-cultural collaboration that led to the development of this shared vision.

Hot Tip:

Both Aotearoa New Zealand Evaluation Association (ANZEA) and the Canadian Evaluation Association are publishing on evaluation and their evaluation journals are open-access.

Rad Resource # 3: Evaluation Matters — He Take T? Te Aromatawai.

Aoteroa New Zealand Evaluation Association’s evaluation journal.

Check out:

This article discusses the tensions between communities and evaluators when indigenous evaluators accept government provider contracts to work in an indigenous space in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Rad Resource #4: The Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation

Check out:

Hot Tip:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation (IPE)  TIG week. All posts this week are contributed by members of the IPE Topical Interest Group. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Hello! I’m Martha A. Brown President of  RJAE Consulting. Lately, an endless stream of conference speakers, blog writers, Indigenous evaluators, and authors have confronted and challenged my “programming” as an evaluator. Traditional evaluation methods place tremendous emphasis on research methods and evaluation theory – but not necessarily on the people we work with and for. At the 2017 Canadian Evaluation Society conference, Nora Roberts told me that the very tools of our profession continue to oppress and silence others. Her statement sent me reeling. Gail Barrington spoke about the value of reflecting upon our work and our methods so we can improve our craft and learn more about ourselves. Indigenous speakers at multiple conferences reminded me that we are all interconnected and that our relationships with ourselves and each other are the most important things in life. All of this can be summed up in one word: love.

Additionally, I research, practice and teach restorative justice, which is grounded in Indigenous values such as interconnectedness, openness, honesty, vulnerability, and respect. I bring these values and restorative practices to my work. However, too many times I have felt like I am “breaking all the rules” that I learned in graduate school as I infuse love into my work and the people I work with.

When I read the invitation to submit a blog on evaluation and labor, the first thing that came to mind was to write about putting love and relationships at the center of our work. What would our work look like if each of us took time at the outset and throughout every evaluation to build trusting relationships with our “stakeholders” and “participants”? Do those of us who are products of Western culture even know how to do this? In a society that values goals, outcomes, and return-on-investment above all else, how can we return to the teachings and the ways of our ancestors and put our relationships at the center of everything we do? We knew this once, but have forgotten.

In AEA, many evaluators are truly committed to changing the world, to improving people’s lives, and to creating more just and equitable ways of doing what we do. But we don’t always know how to live out our goals. That requires us to critically reflect upon what we were taught, how we do our work, and to ask who is being inadvertently silenced, harmed, or oppressed during an evaluation – or in an evaluation classroom. It requires us to love.

Love requires us to engage our whole selves – mind, body, heart and spirit – in our work. We can learn how to do this by studying Indigenous values, practices, and ways of being. I am so grateful to those who helped me wake up, including our own Nicky Bowman.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Labor Day Week in Evaluation: Honoring the WORK of evaluation. The contributions this week are tributes to the behind the scenes and often underappreciated work evaluators do. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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