International Policy Update: July 2015

Tom Schwandt to Help Promote Evaluation of the New Sustainable Development Goals

From Mike Hendricks, AEA Representative to the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE), with contributions from Jim Rugh, EvalPartners Co-Coordinator

RS - Mike Hendricks.png      Jim Rugh 2010.01.16.JPG

We are very excited that one of AEA’s most senior leaders, Dr. Thomas A. Schwandt, will be representing AEA on the core group of the just-beginning EvalPartners initiative EvalSDG. The letters “SDG” stand for Sustainable Development Goals, a set of 17 world-wide goals the U.N. is expected to approve in September to replace the expiring Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 

Thomas Schwandt_RS2.pngAlthough the MDGs did focus on specific indicators of various aspects of poverty, there wasn’t enough evaluation done to document the reasons for progress or to learn lessons on the process. To improve this situation, EvalSDG will be promoting a much stronger emphasis on evaluation in the design, implementation, and use of the upcoming SDGs. EvalPartners is developing EvalSDG in partnership with the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG), which is co-chairing the initiative. (See here for more information.)

Tom was asked by AEA President Stewart Donaldson to take on this important responsibility, and Stewart is thrilled Tom is willing to serve AEA – and evaluation globally – in this way. “Tom’s appointment is a strong signal that AEA believes that EvalSDG has tremendous potential for doing good, and Tom is the best person to help fulfill that potential,” Stewart said.

You may know Tom as editor-in-chief of our “American Journal of Evaluation” from 2010-2013, but he has many other impressive accomplishments to his credit: 

  • Ph.D. in inquiry methodology from Indiana University
  • Long-time professor at the University of Illinois
  • Fellow of the American Educational Research Association
  • Current member of the editorial board of “Evaluation”
  • Previous member of the AEA Board of Directors and previous chair of both our Ethics Committee and our Publications Committee
  • Recipient of AEA’s Paul F. Lazarsfeld Award for Contributions to Evaluation Theory
  • Author or co-author of over 80 articles or book chapters on evaluation issues
  • Recently published “Evaluation Foundations Reconsidered: Cultivating a Life of the Mind for Practice” (Stanford University Press)
  • Member of the Expert Advisory Panel of the Independent Evaluation Office of UNDP
  • Advisor to the Annie E. Casey Foundation in the U.S. and to the IDRC in Canada

Equally exciting is that Tom’s academic scholarship meshes very nicely with the practical challenges of the SDGs. Tom’s work focuses on the theory and practice of program evaluation, with particular emphasis on evidence-based policy and practice, data-driven decision making, and evaluating the quality of evaluation research. Among his many books, his 2012 book “Using Science as Evidence in Public Policy” seems especially relevant for EvalSDG.

The reason for our excitement is clear: AEA believes in the importance of EvalSDG, and we’ve asked one of our very best to help with this exciting new initiative. Tom Schwandt has eagerly jumped on board. Stay tuned to hear good things from EvalSDG.

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