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Evaluating Environmental Public Participation: Methodological Considerations

Increasingly, environmental agencies are engaged in public participation activities. Unfortunately, the limited evaluation of public participation programs also makes improvement of such programs more difficult. To encourage further thinking about the evaluation of environmental public participation programs, this article discusses some of the basic issues raised by evaluators of social programs (e.g. unemployment and housing, etc.) that have served as methodological proving grounds for evaluation.

These issues include why evaluate and what and how to evaluate, as well as questions concerning the role of evaluators. To illustrate ways in which evaluators of environmental public participation programs have grappled with these issues, examples of different methodological approaches are included. Finally, based on this review, recommendations are made to improve evaluations of environmental public participation programs, such as increasing evaluation aimed at making mid-course corrections, which includes involving participants in evaluation and assessing a variety of participatory goals.

Caron Chess

Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 43 (6), 769 – 784 (2000)

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