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Rodney Hopson and Prisca Collins of Duquesne University describe a new graduate internship program designed to develop leaders in the evaluation field and improve evaluators' capacity to work responsively in diverse racial and ethnic communities.

In 1999 the American Evaluation Association (AEA) launched the Building Diversity Initiative (BDI),1 which produced a number of recommendations both for the AEA and the evaluation field as a whole. One important outcome of the 2-year initiative was the recommendation and subsequent establishment of the Graduate Education Diversity Internship Program at Duquesne University.

Program Background
Advisory committee and initiative staff surveyed evaluators2 and discovered a lack of mentoring opportunities, role models, and access to training for evaluators of color. In addition, they interviewed foundation and federal agency representatives about their engagement with evaluators of color. These interviews exposed the difficulties these institutions face in ensuring culturally responsive evaluations. Respondents attributed this, in part, to the challenge of identifying, accessing, and engaging both evaluators of color and evaluators with the capacity to work with racially and ethnically diverse communities. In fact the majority of the respondents' institutions were not engaged in deliberate efforts to identify diverse evaluators.

Increasing the number of evaluators of color is critical not only because of the new ideas, paradigms, and realities these professionals provide but also because of the significance of cultural context and competence in the field. In recent years, there has been a growing movement to apply cultural litmus tests to evaluation processes, standards, and use, particularly when communities of color are participants and stakeholders.3

One factor contributing to the low number of evaluators of color is the lack of available training opportunities. Despite increased demands for accountability and evaluation in foundation and government sectors, the number of formal graduate programs in evaluation has been decreasing over the last decade, with predictions that these programs are unlikely to expand.4 Moreover, there is a dearth of doctoral degrees earned by African Americans, American Indians, Mexican Americans, and Puerto Ricans in research-based education and the social sciences.5

There are several possible approaches to building innovative training mechanisms for increasing diversity among evaluators. Frierson6 suggests that schools of education play a major role in both educating and training program evaluators and increasing the diversity of the field. Discussions from a recent National Science Foundation workshop on the role of minority evaluation professionals suggest expanding the current model to a multiple-agency approach; such a structure might include the involvement of colleges and universities, government agencies, and professional organizations through mentoring, potential employment, and other strategies.7

Duquesne University's Graduate Internship Program
As a result of the BDI, AEA and Duquesne University established a graduate internship program that is intended to (a) build the “pipeline” of students who already have basic research capacities and substantive knowledge and extend their capabilities to evaluation, (b) provide professional development training opportunities for social science, public health, and other graduate students in research, and (c) deepen the evaluation profession's capacity to work in racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse settings.

In its inaugural year (2004–2005), the program was guided by a project director, internship coordinator, and advisory board comprising leaders from AEA and the larger evaluation field. The program's accomplishments to date include the following:8

  • Recruiting and enrolling graduate students of color
  • Developing the internship curriculum, Evaluation Toward Social Justice and Social Change, which guided three training sessions facilitated by internship staff and evaluation experts
  • Placing interns with local agencies where they participated in evaluating programs serving culturally diverse populations
  • Advising and providing interns with mentor support from an advisor at students' home institutions and an active senior AEA member with similar research or career interests
  • Providing leadership development opportunities in AEA and beyond through participation at the annual AEA meeting, exposure to former and current AEA leaders through trainings and seminars, and active participation in other evaluation-related activities

Eligibility and application procedures for the internship program are available at

1 U.S. News & World Report. (2005). America's best colleges: 2005 edition.
2 Cole, S., & Barber, E. (2003). Increasing faculty diversity: The occupational choices of high-achieving minority students. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
3 See the following for more information: Bowen, W. G., & Bok, D. (1998). The shape of the river: Long-term consequences of considering race in college and university admissions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press; and Sander, R. H. (2005). A systematic evaluation of affirmative action in American law schools. Stanford Law Review, 57(3), 376–483.
4 Other promising programs may exist that were not identified for this search.
5 Miller L. S. (with Öztürk, M. D., & Chavez, L.). (2005). Increasing African American, Latino, and Native American representation among high achieving undergraduates at selective colleges and universities. Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley, Institute for the Study of Social Change.
6 Frierson, 2003.
7 National Science Foundation, 2000.
8 The program’s first year was made possible with invaluable support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the Duquesne University School of Education, and the American Evaluation Association.

Rodney Hopson
Associate Professor and Project Director
Tel: 412-396-4034

Prisca Collins
Internship Coordinator
Tel: 412-396-5568

Duquesne University
Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership
School of Education
Canevin Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15208-0540

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