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Evaluation of the oppressed: A social justice approach to program evaluation

Mohamed Ismail Ibrahim, University of Massachusetts Amherst


In this dissertation, I explore a different concept in program evaluation. There is little literature on using evaluation research as a tool for social justice. The Oppression Evaluation Approach I am introducing is about an alternative method in conducting program evaluation under dominant political conditions, simply dealing with the ethical question: whose side are the evaluators on? The study is based on the experiences of environmental activists in Sudan who have worked under oppressive environments for decades, and how this reflected on the microenvironment of projects run by authoritative managements. The purpose of this study was: (1) To critically review the concept of educational evaluation, with a focus on areas that are not usually tackled, e.g., evaluation abuse. I introduce a number of illegitimate purposes for doing program evaluations in addition to the ones cited in the U.S.A evaluation literature. I also highlight major contemporary models and approaches, which have emerged during the past three decades. (2) To introduce a new approach or model, tentatively called Oppression Evaluation, to develop its theoretical framework based on my experience with evaluation projects in the Third World. I accomplished this and introduced the distinct characteristics of this approach (pre-starting conditions, evaluators' role, covert agenda, power relationships, type of data, risk factors, etc.). This was a major achievement of this research. (3) To explore similarities and differences of this approach in two environmental social justice projects in Sudan and Massachusetts, using a comparative case study design. The key findings were similar methods used in both cases, even with different political environments, due to the shared environmental vision by the two organizations. The adopted methodology in this research was qualitative, focusing on detailed descriptions of the two case studies. I relied on my role in the Sudanese case on reviewing its literature and documents, and introducing a distinguished data gathering technique that is used among left movement in Sudan, and called “Zameel Network.” In the second case, I gathered data via email, media documentation, in-depth interviews, direct and participant-observation, and photography.

Subject Area

Educational sociology|Adult education|Continuing education

Recommended Citation

Ibrahim, Mohamed Ismail, "Evaluation of the oppressed: A social justice approach to program evaluation" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3078693.