Susan Kistler on Evaluating the Zombie Apocalypse

My name is Susan Kistler and I am the American Evaluation Association’s Executive Director. Our Institute partners at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) were kind enough to release this week preparedness guidelines for the Zombie Apocalypse, including:

  • Identify the types of emergencies that are possible in your area. Besides a zombie apocalypse, this may include floods, tornadoes…
  • Pick a meeting place for your family to regroup in case zombies invade your home…
  • Plan your evacuation route. When zombies are hungry they won’t stop until they get food (i.e., brains)…

Pondering the excellent advice from CDC prompted me to consider, how do you go about evaluating the ZA? What would success look like? For whom? How would you measure it? If you feel unprepared for such an undertaking, might I suggest attending the AEA/CDC Summer Evaluation Institute?

Hot Tip: Assuming we all make it through the weekend (the rapture may be coming), I’d encourage those of you hoping to join me in evaluating the ZA to attend a pre-Institute workshop (you can register for these as part of, or independently of, the Institute). There are three.

  • Introduction to Evaluation with Tom Chapel: Tom is from the CDC, so presumably privy to their full ZA plans, and certainly his years of evaluation experience will help beginners to lay the foundation for outstanding evaluation whether of the invasion or of programs of any sort.
  • The What and How of Outcome Measurement with Ellen Taylor-Powell: Ellen’s workshop should give one a leg up on identifying appropriate outcome measures for the ZA, specifying indicators, and collecting the data needed to determine success.
  • An Introduction to Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation: An Approach to Engaging Stakeholders in M&E with Arlene Vincent-Mark: Known to be particularly uncooperative, engaging zombies will certainly be a challenge and Arlene can help one to employ participatory strategies for evaluation and community capacity building in many contexts.

Hot Tip: The Institute itself offers sessions useful for evaluating the ZA. Perhaps you want to gather data from the undead – a notoriously difficult to reach population. Consider seeking out the workshops on transformative mixed methods, as well as case studies, qualitative interviewing skills, and enhanced group facilitation. Or do you want to look more broadly at the post-apocalyptic coalitions gathered to stave off the zombie hoards? There are workshops on evaluating collaborations, and evaluating community engagement – plus over 30 more to fill your toolbox.

Hot Tip: Registration is still open for the institute to be held June 12-15 in Atlanta. Register today to upgrade your evaluation skills to be prepared for any circumstance.

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.

4 thoughts on “Susan Kistler on Evaluating the Zombie Apocalypse”

  1. If this is a session at the Summer Evaluation Institute, I think I will need to attend. How can I sign up?

  2. I was smirking until I got to evaluating community engagement for the zombie hoards. Then I laughed out loud.

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