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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Daniela C. Schröter
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Evaluation
Title: Evaluation of Sustainability for Sustainability: Development and Validation of an Evaluation Checklist
Dr. Matthew Mingus, Chair
Dr. Michael Scriven
Dr. Jennifer Palthe
Date: Friday, June 27, 2008 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Emeriti Lounge, Walwood Hall
“Sustainability” is a buzz word these days which permeates many
levels of human activity. Interest in sustainability is grounded primarily in the sustainable development field, which is concerned with the survival of humans on planet earth, and with the growing demands of meeting people's long-term needs. In North American evaluation literature, however, sustainability is foremost thought of in terms of continuing program activity beyond initial funding cycles via diversification of funding streams or institutionalization.
As such, two distinct perspectives for evaluating sustainability were identified. The first is concerned with micro-level issues, that is, evaluators are concerned with the continuation of programs, policies, and other types of evaluation objects (i.e., evaluands). Second, there is a macro-level perspective concerned with sustaining human, social, and economic development under consideration of protecting the environment. Both concepts are interdependent; hence, sustainability evaluation should incorporate both concerns: the continuation of human activity (projects, programs, policies) and the maintenance of means for mankind to exist on earth (i.e., human, social, economic, and environmental needs).
To address both issues requires evaluation (i.e., the determination of merit, worth, and significance) of sustainability (of evaluands) and for sustainability (human survival on earth). While there are numerous evaluation objects within the larger sustainable development movement that can be linked to sustainability (e.g., products, programs, services, organizations), this dissertation promotes a sustainability evaluation checklist, specifically designed for programs and projects that address basic human needs and deal with the dynamics that exist between human, social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainability. The checklist was developed based on a review of the pertinent literature and was validated and refined based on feedback from experts and practitioners who provided critical reactions about the
draft checklist's shortcomings, potentials, and usefulness for evaluating sustainability in diverse contexts.