The political nature of evaluation has been part of its conceptualization in the USA since its early days. However, the intersection of evaluation and policy has never been smooth; hence evaluation’s future and its contribution to social betterment are dynamic and wrought with challenges. It is likely that the current climate of government retrenchment will continue for some time to come — with implications for evaluators on their strategies for working with policy-makers to design, implement and utilize evaluations that are culturally and contextually responsive and that have the potential to support needed transformative social change, especially for the most vulnerable. A brief review of the history of evaluation in the USA will provide a pathway to evaluation’s current status vis-à-vis policy-makers, as well as lead to implications for the future. Evaluators in the USA reflect a variety of stances, characterized by different philosophical assumptions as well as methodological approaches. These stances are critically examined to illustrate their potential contribution to addressing pressing needs in the future. This includes an emphasis on discussing how the challenges for evaluators in the USA could have implications for other countries as they continue to develop strategies for involving communities in the evaluation process in order to provide better support for realizing the goals of increased social justice and the furtherance of human rights.
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- The Role of Evaluation in Social Change: Perspectives on the Future of Evaluation from the USA
Donna M. Mertens
- Palgrave Macmillan UK
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