Date and time: Friday 10th December 2021 8.30am – 10.00am AEDT
Topic: How can evaluators organise for racial justice and decolonisation?
Goal: Opportunity to reflect on how to organise and disrupt oppressive practices in evaluation
Co-facilitated by: Dr Vidhya Shanker, Eva Sarr, Mark Planingale, Jerome Winston and members of the Multicultural Evaluation Special Interest Group (MESIG)
Venue:  Via Zoom. Details will be emailed to registrants just prior to the start time
Register online by: Wednesday 8 December

This is a special event organised by the Multicultural Evaluation Special Interest Group (MESIG). AES free events provide an opportunity for you to meet with AES members and others in the evaluation community and to share and learn from the experiences of fellow evaluators.

Event overview

Evaluation practice generally occurs in societal contexts shaped by colonisation, enslavement, and imperial war. Unsurprisingly, the development of evaluation as a field—including the training, socialisation, and enculturation of each generation of evaluators—has also been influenced by these histories and ongoing structures of stratification. While the value alignment of individual evaluators may be oriented toward addressing inequity, within the broader context it can be easy for the field of evaluation to reinforce the underlying power dynamics of marginalisation and dispossession.

To work effectively and justly as members of a profession, evaluators need ways to surface, understand, and organise around histories of resistance and ongoing movements to build power and challenge oppression. This can assist us to analyse both the forces affecting the communities we are engaging with and the ways in which evaluation itself can potentially reinforce—or disrupt—oppression.

This presentation unpacks these forces and provides opportunities for participants to reflect critically in small groups on the ways that evaluation as a field has foregrounded some voices and silenced others—including how systems of oppression have affected their own evaluation practice. It will close with a large-group exploration of pathways for reversing these forces.

Mr Jerome Winston, founding member, Fellow of the AES and member of the Multicultural Evaluation Special Interest Group, will talk about Australian Evaluation Culture before the AES and the USA evaluation culture before the AEA, viewed from an Australian perspective.

Presenter's background

Vidhya Shanker, PhD, has a Master of Arts in Public Affairs, with concentrations in Nonprofit Management and Race, Class & Gender in Global Perspective, and a PhD in Evaluation Studies. She is an interdependent and interdisciplinary evaluation practitioner, scholar, organizer, and activist as well as Co-chair of the American Evaluation Association's DEI Working Group. Using an intersectional paradigm, her dissertation research bridged critical theories of systemic oppression with systems thinking to examine how racialized difference is discursively and materially constructed in and through evaluation.

The construction of race was necessary for Europe to advance capitalism, settler colonization, and imperial aggression. The construction of race is also inherently interlocked with the construction of gender, sexuality, class, and ability status. Vidhya has since tried to put her dissertation results into practice to interrogate, identify, and articulate the processes that reinforce—and disrupt—oppressive power dynamics in, through, and around evaluation and the racially stratified industries that use its services and results. In other words, the object of study and intervention is systems of oppression; it is not seemingly discrete populations who are suffering oppression's effects.

Specifically, Vidhya has engaged other evaluators from marginalized groups in challenging the production of dominant narratives regarding social problems. As such, she has been working to organize Minnesota evaluators representing groups surviving ongoing displacement and dispossession in an effort to build, share, and wield collective power rather than compete with each other. The Minnesota IBPOC in Evaluation Community of Praxis that she co-founded dreams of a world where the ancestral, experiential, and community knowledge of excluded and harmed groups shape not just particular inquiry and knowledge-production projects, but such processes writ large in ways that serve these group's socio-economic and political interests as well as their overall well-being.

Vidhya has simultaneously been working nationally and internationally to nurture a critical, indigenizing, liberatory, abolitionist tradition within evaluation, including building the field's understanding of difference, intersectionality, and its own history of exclusion and erasure. This has largely been through presentations sponsored by the American Evaluation Association, center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation & Assessment, Center for Evaluation Innovation's Evaluation Roundtable, and Minnesota Evaluation Association as well as entries in the AEA365 blog series.

Seminar start times

  • VIC, NSW, ACT, TAS: 8.30am
  • SA: 8.00am
  • QLD: 7.30am
  • NT: 7.00am
  • Perth: 5.30am
  • New Zealand: 10.30am

For other time zones please go to

Please ensure you have access to your email address just prior to the start time to access Zoom details. Please also check your email address is correct on your registration form before submitting. Thanks.


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