Evaluation 2015: Exemplary Evaluations in a Multicultural World

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Spirituality in Evaluation - Essential to Indigenous, Transformative and Exemplary Evaluation

Session Number: 1983
Track: Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation
Session Type: Panel
Tags: Aotearoa New Zealand, Indigenous Evaluation
Session Chair: Fiona Cram [Katoa Ltd, Aotearoa New Zealand]
Discussant: Nicole R Bowman, Ph.D. [Bowman Performance Consulting]
Presenter 1: Vivienne Kennedy [Kimi NZ Ltd]
Presenter 2: Donna M Mertens [Independent Consultant]
Presenter 3: Rita S Fierro, Ph.D. [Fierro Consulting, LLC]
Presentation 1 Additional Author: Maria Baker [Ms]
Presentation 1 Additional Author: Kirimatao Paipa [Director - Massey University, New Zealand]
Presentation 1 Additional Author: Kataraina Pipi [Independent Evaluator - FEM Ltd NZ]
Time: Nov 12, 2015 (08:00 AM - 09:30 AM)
Room: Skyway 284

Abstract 1 Title: The Inclusion of Spirituality in Indigenous Evaluation
Presentation Abstract 1: For Māori (Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand) spirituality is part of our theory about the nature of reality and part of our relationship as knowers with what is knowable. Spirituality is threaded through cultural beliefs, values and practices. As an inherent part of daily life and cultural vitality, spirituality is embedded in Māori services and programs. It must therefore be part of any evaluation of Māori initiatives or organisations. This presentation contemplates the importance of spirituality in the everyday lives of Māori, and begins a conversation about how Māori evaluators acknowledge, value, and represents spirituality in their evaluation work. Key themes from the wānanga (forum for learning and discussion) included being respectful of people, upholding their mana (status), having a love for people, and journeying with care. Our hope is that our experiences will prompt other evaluators to contemplate how spirituality is woven into their culturally responsive evaluation practice.
Presentation 1 Other Authors: Fiona Cram
Abstract 2 Title: The Inclusion of Spirituality in Transformative Evaluation
Presentation Abstract 2: My cultural roots were strong on spirituality and my professional preparation roots were strong on keeping anything spiritual out of my role as researcher and evaluator. This cultural tension is likely common among those raised in the Christian tradition and educated in the era of positivism and post-positivism. Yet the ethical principles that guided my professional work emanated from Christian values of service and being respectful and loving towards others. These same values drove me in the development of transformative evaluation. When this work opened up opportunities for me to engage with Indigenous peoples, I felt an affirmation for the inclusion of spirituality in my professional work. I will explore the tensions between Western ways of thinking about religion, spirituality, and evaluation in the context of improving our evaluation theory and practice when we are explicit about the meta-physical bonds that connect us with each other and with the earth.
Abstract 3 Title: How Do power Differences and Our Relationship to Emotions Affect Our Work?
Presentation Abstract 3: One of the questions that has guided my intellectual quest has been: How could white people stand by and watch the injustices and violence against people of color all around the world and take it, without feeling compassion and/or pain? I found the answers in my bodywork energy practice (Reiki) and in chakra theory. People of privilege (class, race, gender, ethnicity, education) are taught that intellect is more important than emotions and are taught to repress their emotions. How does this affect how we show up and interpret what occurs in professional spaces? How do we create teams that help me process my spiritual lessons instead of projecting them upon the contexts of my evaluation work? How can we use positioning and reflective practice to process experiences within the team? What value do we place on emotions and logical thinking and does that affect how I show up or observe other contexts?
Audience Level: Intermediate

Session Abstract: 

Our world continues to grow smaller and more familiar with physical migration, travel blogs, and the forging of real and virtual connections between people from far-flung places. When connections are made peoples’ understanding of, and adherence to spiritual beliefs can spark conflict. And yet programs and services need to be responsive to the spirituality that is at the core of constituents’ identities, and possibly facilitate dialogue about spiritual differences across cultural boundaries. Similarly, exemplary evaluation practices must be spiritually respectful if evaluators are to even begin to articulate and assess spiritual processes and outcomes. Evaluation practices being articulated by Indigenous peoples offer an entry point into provocative conversations about evaluation and spirituality. Ceremonies and other protocols connect evaluators to the spiritual aspects of Indigenous lives. From this understanding we reach out to ask if others are also thinking about the spiritual in evaluation practice, and we find people reaching back.


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