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The American Evaluation Association invites evaluators from around the world to attend its annual conference to be held Wednesday, November 5, through Saturday, November 8, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. We will be meeting right in the heart of the city at the Hyatt Regency.

AEA's annual meeting is expected to bring together approximately 2500 evaluation practitioners, academics, and students, and represents a unique opportunity to gather with professional colleagues in a supportive, invigorating, atmosphere.

The conference is broken down into 41 Topical Strands that examine the field from the vantage point of a particular methodology, context, or issue of interest to the field as well as the Presidential Strand highlighting this year's Presidential Theme of Evaluation Policy and Evaluation Practice. Presentations may explore the conference theme or any aspect of the full breadth and depth of evaluation theory and practice.

Proposals are due by midnight in the Eastern time zone, on Friday, March 14, 2008.

  • Read a letter of invitation to submit from the AEA President Learn more
  • Review the Frequently Asked Questions about proposal submission Learn more
  • Explore the types of sessions that may be proposed Learn more
  • Consider proposing an extended workshop to precede or follow the conference Learn more
  • Go directly to the proposal submission forms Learn more

Letter of Invitation to Submit for Evaluation 2008 from AEA's President

What is “evaluation policy”? An evaluation policy is any rule or principle that a group or organization uses to guide its decisions and actions when doing evaluation. Every group and organization that engages in evaluation – including government agencies, private businesses, and nonprofit organizations – has evaluation policies. Sometimes these are formal, explicit and written; at other times they are more implicit and ad hoc principles or norms that have simply evolved over time. In the absence of formally stated evaluation policies, organizations seem to make policies up as they go along—too often without thoroughly consulting what others have done or informing themselves about evaluation best practices. Evaluation policies profoundly affect the day-to-day work of all evaluators. Many recent and current controversies or conflicts in the field of evaluation can be viewed, at least in part, as struggles around evaluation policy. Because evaluation policies typically apply across multiple evaluations, influencing policies directly may have systemic and far-reaching effects for practice.

Next November AEA will convene in the beautiful mile-high city of Denver. The Presidential Strand theme will be Evaluation Policy and Evaluation Practice. Here is a sample of questions we hope to explore at Evaluation 2008:

  • What is evaluation policy?  What questions or issues should a comprehensive organizational evaluation policy address? How and by whom does evaluation policy get formed and disseminated?

  • How does evaluation policy influence evaluation practice?  What are the major evaluation policies that affect your practice of evaluation?

  • When does systematic evaluation get deployed?  What programs, policies, or practices are chosen as the subject of evaluation, when, and why? 

  • What policies should guide the identification and selection of evaluators? What credentials should evaluators have? What kind of relationship should evaluators have to the program or entity being evaluated?

  • What policies should guide the timing, planning, budgeting and funding, contracting, implementation, methods and approaches, reporting, use and dissemination of evaluations?

  • What policies should guide how evaluation participants and respondents are engaged and protected?

  • How can existing (e.g., the Guiding Principles for Evaluators) or prospective professional standards inform evaluation policy?

  • How can you as an evaluator and AEA generally become more engaged in shaping effective evaluation policies?

This theme is a critically important one for our profession. AEA has just launched a multi-year Evaluation Policy Task Force to examine how we can be more proactive in influencing the evaluation policies that guide practice. And, the conference in Denver opens one day after national elections in the U.S., a time when key policymakers at all levels of government consider new policy directions. My hope is that our discussions will enhance our understanding of the relationships between evaluation policy and evaluation practice and help improve the policy landscape for more effective evaluation.

Some of the sessions for the Presidential Strand will be specially invited by the Strand program Chairs, Leslie Cooksy and Melvin Mark. Others will be selected from sessions nominated by AEA’s Topical Interest Groups (TIGs) from the proposals that they review. And, I expect that several other excellent sessions, outside the Presidential Strand, will be related to the Strand theme. I encourage you to consider submitting a proposal that addresses issues related to evaluation policy and evaluation practice, or on any topic of interest to evaluators, for peer review by one of AEA’s 41 TIGs.

Join us in Denver – the gateway to the Rockies, Colorado’s state capital, and home to many world-class museums and attractions – for what promises to be an exciting and important conference that will help us set the course for the future of evaluation.

Be sure to explore this site to learn more about the conference and access the proposal submission guidelines and forms.

Trochim Signature

William Trochim
2008 AEA President