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MIE TIG Week: What is Social Justice? by Nicole Clark

We are Nicole Clark, Jen LoPiccolo, James Groh, Mellie Torres, and Jeremy Foutz. We’re members of the Multicultural Issues in Evaluation TIG, and we joined the MIE TIG’s Social Justice Committee, led by Ayesha Boyce and Darla Scott, in 2019. We will also be accompanied seasoned evaluator and AEA board member, Jara Dean-Coffey.

The MIE Social Justice Committee seeks to advance the practice of culturally responsive and equitable evaluation, discover how evaluation can be transformative and produce societal change, and to become more intentional in bringing intersectionality and inclusivity to evaluation in domestic and global contexts. 

Throughout this week, we’ll provide an overview of what social justice is, and how social justice looks within the evaluation context. Today, we will provide a general overview of social justice. Throughout the week:

  • Explore why evaluators should care about social justice
  • Share personal narratives to applying social justice concepts as evaluators
  • Address concerns in applying these concepts as evaluators
  • Overview resources to assist with applying these concepts
  • Discuss how you can join us in learning more about social justice.

Today, I (Nicole) will be providing an overview of social justice. While the term “social justice” has become a very buzzworthy term in recent years, many activist and professional spaces are applying social justice thinking to their work to advance human rights. Social justice a framework for understanding how we give voice to marginalized communities, and review distributions of wealth, power, and opportunities. 

Hot Tip: In order to know what social justice is, it’s important to understand what social injustices are. According to the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics, in order to pursue social change on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people, we should strive to take a person-in-environment approach. This means understanding how social, economic, environmental, and political circumstances affect daily living.

Hot Tip: While it may seem that advancing towards a more just society is a lofty goal, economist and philosopher Amartya Sen recommends taking actions to overcome a specific injustice, not just for individuals but also for groups with a shared problem. For example, homelessness, underfunded mental health services, lack of access to education are just some problems that, if addressed, could benefit many communities. 

Hot Tip: As evaluators it is our responsibility to give voice and power to marginalized communities in the evaluation process. 

As part of AEA’s competencies, we must identify how evaluation practice can promote social justice and the public good. But, in order to do this, evaluators must be on board with promoting social justice in our work. 

Tomorrow, we’ll hear from Jen on why evaluators should care about social justice.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Multicultural Issues in Evaluation (MIE) TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our MIE 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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