Dr. Rodney Hopson delivered this public lecture on September 28, 2011 as part of his participation as a Visiting Scholar at Western Michigan University.
Evaluation takes place in complex ecologies where we evaluators play important roles in building better organizations and communities and in creating opportunities for a better world. At the core of our work is an attention to relationships, responsibilities, and relevance that make up these complex program, policy (and political), institutional, fiscal, environmental, sociocultural ecologies. The concern for relationships obliges evaluators to consider questions such as: what key interactions, variables, stakeholders, or consumers do we need to attend in an evaluation? The attention to responsibilities requires evaluators to consider questions such as: to whom do we owe what in evaluations? The need for relevance suggests that evaluations consider questions such as: how do we make evaluations beneficial and meaningful to the diverse communities, contexts, and cultures in which we work? The presentation will focus on questions that evaluators, those who use evaluations, and those concerned with the public good face and should be concerned about, including ways to promote the liberatory role of evaluation in the service of public values, interests, and good.