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IDPE Week: The Interdisciplinary PhD in Evaluation at Western Michigan University by Michael Harnar

My name is Michael Harnar. I have been in the evaluation discipline for about 16 years and for almost 3 years I’ve been an assistant professor in the Interdisciplinary PhD in Evaluation (IDPE) program at Western Michigan University.

When Chris Coryn and I decided to write a set of AEA365 blogs about the IDPE (we offered the idea to Sheila sometime in Fall 2019) we wanted to provide a sort of public service announcement about the program. Not some sales-pitch that would generate a buzz and possibly bring more students and dollars to our program, but as an opportunity to talk more about the program to those that might never have heard of or not known what the program was like, to lift the veil of mystery about what it’s like to pursue a PhD in evaluation. Certainly, there are online resources for people to read about what we do here, but those are just the beginnings of the many details involved in such an endeavor. We thought a few blogs with the voices of some of us “in the mix” would be a useful addition to the resources already available. When we decided to write these, no one in our circles was talking pandemic, social distancing, or being required to teach whole classes online. Don’t get me wrong, for years there have been active conversations around online doctorates in evaluation, and I have been involved in distance education in one form or another since the 1980s, but now it is the current normal and we are all working feverishly to uphold our commitments of quality education for our evaluation scholars online. Though we expect this pandemic to pass and we will get back to our in-person classes sometime soon, we are aware of the media activity swirling around the value of post-K-12 education whether online or in-person (e.g., this New Yorker article). Such attention in this era has brought new life to the discussion of how to implement a PhD in evaluation online and we are not immune or averse to the conversation. We are engaged. We don’t have all the answers yet, but we are interested in insights you’d like to share about the topic. So, please comment below or reach out to me directly.

In the meantime, I hope you find these posts enlightening and interesting. Chris kicks us off with a little history of the program, followed by some current and past student posts and I give a little insight into what I love about teaching and researching evaluation in an interdisciplinary program.

Hot Tips:

Here are a few additional links and tidbits:

  • Western Michigan University is located in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
  • Kalamazoo school district graduates have access to the Kalamazoo Promise, that pays tuition for graduates to attend many MI universities and colleges.
  • The IDPE publishes the peer-reviewed, open-access Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation (JMDE).
  • The core values of the program are excellence, integrity, teaching, practice, innovation, diversity and scholarship.

This week, we’re diving into learning about the Interdisciplinary PhD in Evaluation (IDPE) program at Western Michigan University.  IDPE is the oldest evaluation doctoral program whose purposes include the education and development of thought leaders in evaluation. 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.

1 thought on “IDPE Week: The Interdisciplinary PhD in Evaluation at Western Michigan University by Michael Harnar”

  1. Dr. Sondra LoRe

    Looking forward to your series of posts Michael. I wasn’t aware of the JMDE journal. I took a look at a few articles. Fantastic!
    Thank you for sharing this – I look forward to the rest of the posts this week!
    Sondra LoRe, Ph.D.
    Manager | National Institute for STEM Evaluation and Research (NISER)
    Adjunct Professor | Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement Program, Department of Educational Psychology & Counseling
    The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
    Office of Research & Engagement
    114 Philander P. Claxton Education Building
    PH: 865-974-4962

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