LaRED TIG Week: Lessons Learned in Promoting International Discussions on Participatory Evaluation with Latin America and the Caribbean Region by Maritza Concha and Rasha Mannaa

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Hola, we are the Center for Public and Nonprofit Management (CPNM) team at University of Central Florida.  My name is Maritza Concha, Director of the Center and Rasha Mannaa is my graduate assistant.  CPNM’s main goal is to provide capacity building services to nonprofit organizations including training and technical assistance on program evaluation. In April of 2022, my center coordinated, in collaboration with an international committee, the first virtual Participatory Action Research and Evaluation Conference also known as PAREC. The conference’s theme focused on working towards the Sustainable Development Goals through participatory research and evaluation empowering the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) community. The conference had the following three main objectives:

  • Establish connections and networking between students, academics and practitioners from North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean to promote collaborative discussion and research on participatory evaluation and empowerment issues.
  • Exchange unique participatory evaluation concepts and applications in the Latin American and Caribbean region as “promising or evidence-based practices”.
  • Generate and systematize knowledge and documents through the information produced at the conference. 

The conference had a total of nine panel discussions focusing on the following tracks within participatory evaluation: 1) values and standards, 2) theoretical frameworks and methods, and 3) application and experiences. Speakers included experts in evaluation from the region as well as from the UNDP Independent Evaluation Office leadership. More than 250 participants (evaluators, students, and academics) from LAC and United States participated in this one-day event. 

Lessons Learned 

1. Conference coordination and logistics using culturally competent practices 

  • Establish an international committee that will support this effort. This will create buy in from your target audience. It is better to co-develop a conference or a colloquium effort with scholars and practitioners from the region to address cultural and linguistic needs related to content delivery and impact. 
  • Ensure the use of interpreters if presentations are given in multiple languages as well as translations of written documents, including conference website content. 
  • Use a virtual conference platform that is easy to navigate and that allows participants to experience an event like an in-person conference.
  • Use live music highlighting songs from the region to entertain participants during breaks and to show interest about their culture. 

2. Measuring preliminary conference’s impact

  • Translate evaluation forms into other languages and administer these after each session. 
  • Share findings with conference committee for planning and implementation of future conferences.
  • Learn from participants’ opinions about what worked and identify areas of improvement.

3. Importance on learning within a global context

  • Learn best practices on participatory evaluation from different socioeconomic and political contexts.
  • Allow for spaces to connect, exchange knowledge, and create potential partnerships.
  • Promote horizontal conversations to continue building bridges between different regions. 

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group 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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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