My name is Brian Hoessler, and I am the founder and principal of Strong Roots Consulting in Saskatoon, Canada. Actually, my business cards refer to me as Connector-in-Chief, because that’s how I see my evaluation and research work with non-profits: connecting questions with data, dreams with designs, and plans with reality. I also see my role as helping connect individuals, groups, organizations, and institutions towards a common goal, that of creating better communities for everyone. These two approaches are rooted in my community psychology background – one that emphasizes both an applied approach to social research and working with communities to help address local issues and promote social justice.
Evaluation and community psychology, as applied social research fields, share numerous commonalities: at the same time, they have a lot to offer each other. I hope this post will inspire evaluators to learn a bit more about community psychology, and community psychologists to engage more with the evaluation field!
What do collaborative approaches to change (e.g. Collective Impact), participatory and empowering methodologies, and systems thinking have in common? These concepts, growing in popularity in evaluation, were something that I first learned about through community psychology. Community psychology also brings an explicit values focus and a critical perspective, asking not just what’s happening but who’s benefiting and who’s marginalized: for example, Tom Wolff recently shared an engaging critique of the Collective Impact model.
I found myself in the evaluation field initially for the professional development, but what’s kept me engaged are the people. I’ve found that evaluation brings together a diverse range of people from different backgrounds and experiences, including those who wouldn’t identify as an evaluator: instead, we come together out of common interests and purposes. With growing discussions around evaluation’s role in social change, sustainability, and global issues, it’s a field that community psychologists can and should be engaged in!
To learn more about the intersection of community psychology and evaluation, check out the Forum on Community Psychology in the American Journal of Evaluation’s March 2015 issue (Volume 36, Issue 1).
For more about community psychology, check out the Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA), the professional home for community psychology.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Community Psychology (CP) TIG Week with our colleagues in the CP AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our CPTIG 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.