Cultural Competence Week: Jenny Jones on the Fifth Annual Asa G. Hilliard III Think Tank on Relational Ecosystems

I am Jenny Jones, member of AEA’s Public Statement on Cultural Competence in Evaluation (the Statement) Dissemination Working Group. Over the past five years, AEA has honored Asa G. Hilliard’s legacy through an annual Think Tank. The Fifth Annual Asa G. Hilliard III Think Tank on Relational Ecosystems explored how professional roles and relationships can impact the evaluation process and served as the inspiration for this aea365.

Lesson Learned: Dr. Hilliard’s work parallels many of the values highlighted in the Statement. Some essential components of the Statement on Cultural Competence that are aligned with Hilliard’s perspective are the acknowledgement of the complexity of cultural identity; recognition of the dynamics of power; aiming to eliminate bias in language; and, employing culturally appropriate methods.

Hot Tip: Embrace complexity. Some things are best understood by examining the whole and any relationships rather than by attempting to simplify by sorting, piecing-out or dividing into separate parts. The Think Tank introduced eight cultural precepts that we can consider in the scope of assessment and evaluation in a complex ecology. The cultural precepts are Consubstantiation, Interdependence, Egalitarianism, Collectivism, Transformation, Cooperation, Humanism, and Synergism. These cultural precepts serve to improve a standard of action or conduct consistent with cultural competence in evaluation. Below are examples of how the precepts interdependence, egalitarianism, and collectivism are operationalized in evaluation practice.

Interdependence: Asserts that everything in the universe is connected. The ontological origins are relational—everything is inextricably interdependent. For example, when conducting an evaluation one must take a holistic view or sense of interrelatedness of the target population, understanding that a client is connected to a community, a family (biological or constructed) and an agency.

Egalitarianism: Asserts the correct relationship between people is one of harmony and balance. For example, when using this concept in evaluation one must take a non-hierarchical epistemology (what is worth knowing) approach, meaning one must take an approach that does not posit objectivism over subjectivism or Western epistemologies over indigenous epistemologies. Rather all ways of knowing are equal.

Collectivism: Assert that individual effort is a reflection and/or instrument of communal or collective concern. For example, the decision made by an individual regarding who is considered the stakeholder in an evaluation affects the entire community not just that individual. There’s a sense of collective responsibility; nothing one person decides impacts them solely.

Rad Resource: For more information about the life and legacy of Dr. Asa G. Hilliard visit Georgia State University’s Alonzo A. Crime Center for Urban Educational Excellence.

This week, we’re diving into issues of Cultural Competence in Evaluation with AEA’s Statement on Cultural Competence in Evaluation Dissemination Working 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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

2 thoughts on “Cultural Competence Week: Jenny Jones on the Fifth Annual Asa G. Hilliard III Think Tank on Relational Ecosystems”

  1. Thanks for the link to Georgia State U. I’ve been familiar with Hilliard’s radical analysis ever since my foray into evaluation, when I first scoured AJE for culturally relevant notions of evaluation. But in my mind’s eye, I saw a sort of Roy Wilkins persona from my grandfather’s generation rather than the dashiki-clad man whose picture I saw for the first time on the Crim Center profile. Somehow, really seeing him as a contemporary of my father (who is still living) rather than my grandfather (who has long passed) makes his omission from the traditional evaluation canon and curriculum even more upsetting to me. So thanks also for ensuring that the substance of his analysis, and not just his name alone, endures.

  2. Thank you for this gem Jenny, the Alonzo Crim Center for Urban Educational Excellence isn’t located very far from me. I would love to reach out to some of the staff/faculty to learn more about the work they are doing, which includes the history of Asa Hilliard’s work.

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