Trauma-Informed and Equitable Evaluation: Tools and Practices Towards Healing and Liberation

Type: Presentation
Date: July 2024


Fisher C, McElherne L, Braverman Bronstein A. 2024. “Trauma-Informed and Equitable Evaluation: Tools and Practices Towards Healing and Liberation”. Workshop taught at AEA Summer Institute, Washington DC.


The body and brain’s normal responses to traumatic stress can result in changes to cognition, emotion, affect, and behavior that vary widely in terms of duration and severity. Beyond these biological and psychological effects, trauma can also impact our relationships with each other, our relationships with our institutions, histories, and social structures. This informs how people who have experienced trauma relate to and participate in the fields of research and evaluation as both subject and investigator. Further, the historical and contemporary maldistribution of wealth, resources, and protection from violence for people with excluded and minoritized identities means that this is a phenomenon with urgent social justice implications as well. As evaluators, we need tools and practices that will permit us to both see and account for the multilevel impacts of trauma and to work towards healing our communities and our practices. In this workshop, the facilitators will bring an interdisciplinary and equity-focused understanding of trauma-informed evaluation practices, informed by extensive experience in the field as well as their backgrounds in social work, anthropology, epidemiology, and medicine. The workshop will begin with an introduction to trauma, trauma-informed principles and practices, an explanation of what we mean by a multi-level trauma-informed approach, and the relationship between trauma and Equitable Evaluation. We then facilitate a discussion around the ultimate goals of evaluation and its potential for facilitating healing and liberation. Finally, participants engage with the concepts through a group project in which they apply the principles of trauma-informed and  equitable evaluation to a fictional evaluation project. Workshop participants will leave with a set of practical tools and practices for trauma-informed, equitable evaluation.