This research forms a part of Makanani Bell’s PhD. Hover your mouse over ‘Evaluating Community Engagement’ in the menu at the top to navigate to the ‘About this Research’ and ‘How can I Get Involved?’  pages for more information.

Archaeology and heritage management have long stated the benefits of community engagement. However, few practitioners have analysed their work and demonstrated its effects in a rigorous manner. Failing to reflect and assess projects potentially hides negative consequences and hinders the field from reaching its full potential. PhD research at the University of Southampton seeks to address this need in terrestrial and maritime contexts through co-creating an evaluation framework with its intended users: funders, practitioners, and communities.  

This project depends on direct and open communication with funders, practitioners, and community members to craft an effective evaluation framework. The research process, further outlined here, gathers perspectives from potential users of the evaluation framework through focus groups and this website to craft a desirable, user-friendly evaluation framework. Drafts of the framework will be tested, revised, and tested again on case studies in an intentionally reflective process.  

There are several ways you can get involved in this research: take the questionnaire, test the evaluation framework, and participate in a focus group. The goals of this evaluation framework are not to select the best or most successful community engagement projects, nor is it to provide a ‘one size fits all’ framework. Rather the evaluation tool will be adaptable to suit any project with the goal of helping us understand the short-term and long-term consequences of our work to all involved.  

Although scholastically this research is contributing towards a PhD, hopefully it will contribute to a much-needed conversation around how to evaluate projects working with communities. Publishing this framework open-sourced will give anyone interested access to and use of the framework. Creating and publishing a targeted course or conducting seminars on the framework will help practitioners learn the evaluation model, incorporate it into their practice, and critically analyse their projects. In turn, this will help hold us more accountable for our work.