Hello, I am Nick Hart, Treasurer of AEA’s Washington Evaluators (WE) affiliate and a PhD student in Program Evaluation at The George Washington University. I’d like to share some thoughts on the value of local affiliates’ connections with the academic community.
Situated in the Washington, D.C. area, WE has a unique opportunity to connect a diverse range of evaluators from nearly every policy field in non-profits, government, and academia. While location can be a benefit for local affiliates, evaluators from all disciplines and sectors can come together in nearly any city to strengthen and connect the evaluation community. Here are a few lessons we’ve learned about the benefits of specifically linking government and non-profit evaluators with academics that might be helpful for whatever part of the country you live in.
- Networking and Relationships: Local affiliates can sponsor events that encourage academics and practioners to learn more about and to actively discuss joint interests, ranging from specific policy areas to evaluation theory and methods. Aside from the benefit of organized presentations and an enriching learning environment that local affiliates can facilitate, the professional networking that follows events can encourage new connections to researchers with specific expertise in an area of interest. Researchers and practitioners in academia are plugged in to the breadth of evaluation literature, not to mention personal connections with other researchers across the country (or world!). Interacting directly and connecting with academics in your specific policy area can fuel conversations that strengthen evaluation designs and lead to innovative or insightful ways to look at your research questions.
- Diverse Experiences: Any gathering of program evaluation practitioners is destined to offer an eclectic mix of experience and knowledge about evaluation issues and theory. Local affiliates provide a benefit for researchers in the academic community who gain from hearing and discussing field experiences. Practitioners can help academics generate useful research ideas, contribute to developing and advancing evaluation theory, and identify new collaborators or co-authors.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Washington Evaluators (WE) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from WE Affiliate 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.