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Wednesday, October 22, 2014
2014 Use Award for Empowerment Evaluation
2014 AEA Evaluation Advocacy and Use Award
Dr. David Fetterman
Dr. Fetterman is the recipient of the 2014 American Evaluation Association Advocacy and Use Award. He receive the award in large part for his international evaluation work, using empowerment evaluation in over 16 countries. His award acceptance speech is available on YouTube and the text is provided below.
My vision of evaluation and its multiple purposes has taken
me literally around the world, from squatter settlements in South Africa to
high tech corporate offices in Palo Alto.This has made me an unofficial, but no less committed, ambassador of
Taking Stock Step of Empowerment Evaluation in Cape Town
I believe my thinking about evaluation has matured over the
years (at least I hope it has).This
has been in large part due to my colleagues sitting here around this room,
including my good friends and colleagues, Abe Wandersman, Liliana
Rodriguez-Campos, Stewart Donaldson, Kimberly James, Tom Grayson, as well as
Michael Patton, Michael Scriven, and even Brad Cousins.I also appreciate the contributions of
my editors C. Deborah Laughton at Guilford, Helen and Nicole at Sage, and Margo
Even my family has contributed to my development and
definition of my evaluative self.For example, at one Passover Seder, many years ago, my Aunt Mary asked
me the question we all dread as evaluators:“What is it that you do - for a living?”
At the time I was caught up in seeing myself firmly planted
in methods (see Marv’s Roots of Evaluation
book and you will see where I saw myself then and where I see myself today on
his evaluation theory tree – today I focus on use).
Nevertheless at the time, I was obsessed with ethnographic
methods, a cultural interpretation, reactivity, survey design, and the like.I still recall answering her simple and
straightforward question.I told
her I was a methodologist.She
looked at me in astonishment and asked:“Does that mean you’re not Jewish anymore?”I quickly reaffirmed my Jewish identity, even before the
Seder was over.Since then I have
learned to speak more clearly, more simply, and hopefully more thoughtfully
about what I do.She never knew it
but that night she helped me to open my eyes to a much larger view of the world
and my place in it.She also
helped me to more clearly communicate who I am and what I do as an evaluator.
Together my colleagues, friends, and family have helped me
communicate more clearly about the value of evaluation, in its varied forms –
not only empowerment evaluation. (But do look for our new empowerment
evaluation book at the Sage booth – they got it out just in time for our
In any case, I think each one of us is an ambassador of
evaluation as we pursue our work.
Our task on the one hand is to be bold, conscientious, and
considerate. We are here to push
the edges of the intellectual envelope when it comes to our theory and
practice. But none of this matters,
if we forget why we are here - if we forget our humanity.
We stand at the crossroads where use, value, methods and ethics
intersect.We have a
responsibility to use evaluation to improve the human condition – short and
simple.It is our job to keep our
eyes on the prize.Thank all of you
for your commitment to evaluation and your service as ambassadors of evaluation.