Textbook Case Study Critical Reviews
Based on a careful reading of select “public sociology” case studies provided in your course textbook, develop a 500-700-word review and critique of the case study:
Case Study Critical Review 2
Case Study 2.1, Case Study 3.1, OR Case Study 7.4 in the textbook.
Next, for this review (500-750 words), address the following questions in your review of the selected case study. Cite three to five scholarly sources to support your answers:
1. What was the social problem/issue the study and/or initiative was intended to address? Do you think the project scope and design was well suited to better understand and address the issue? Explain.
2. Describe the grassroots nature of the case study/project. How did the project come about? What were opportunities and/or challenges experienced in various stages of the project? How effectively did researchers address project opportunities and challenges?
3. What did project planners do to create active connections between stakeholders (i.e. those affected by—or those in a position to influence—the identified community problem). In your view, what were the strengths and/or limitations of the approach taken to build active community connections between stakeholders?
4. Briefly summarize lessons learned by those involved with the project. Provide an example of one lesson that could be directly applied to your proposed action research project.
Case Study 6.2. Doing God’s Work and Doing Good Work(s): Unique Challenges to Evaluation Research in Ministry Settings Anne E. Figert Pre-Collaboration History In the United States, HIV infection and AIDS continue to have a disproportionate effect in urban communities of color. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and researchers have established that religious leaders and institutions are key gatekeepers to HIV prevention in low-income, primarily minority communities (Mertz, 1997). As a disease, HIV/AIDS can engender both stigma and fear that often results in denial of the problem by religious leaders. In the 1990s, nonprofit AIDS/HIV agencies like the AIDS Pastoral Care Network (APCN) in Chicago began to shift their mission and focus from primarily serving gay men to work with the more diverse communities affected by the spread of the disease. APCN started the West-Side Religious Initiative with Latino faith communities to create a two-track HIV prevention ministry outreach to religious leaders and their congregations (hereafter referred to as the Centro project) on the West Side of Chicago. APCN then began a second project in the predominantly African American neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago in collaboration with the local clergy association. The ultimate goal of both projects was to create a self-sustaining HIV prevention program located in the churches themselves or through the clergy association in the neighborhoods. AIDS Foundation of Chicago Collaboration and Partnership Narrative Through a competitive grant program funded through the AIDS Foundation of Chicago in 2000, a collaborative partnership was formed between APCN and an academic social scientist with experience working with HIV/AIDS agencies (Figert). Loyola researchers (Figert and a graduate FOR THE USE OF GRAND CANYON UNIVERSITY STUDENTS AND FACULTY ONLY. NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION, SALE, OR REPRINTING. ANY AND ALL UNAUTHORIZED USE IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Copyright © 2012 by SAGE Publications, Inc. 220——Public Sociology student trained in social work and ministry) embarked on a mission to evaluate the training and outreach of the HIV/AIDS ministry projects. APCN staff had previously conducted some initial evaluation of the training programs, focused upon measuring HIV knowledge, attitudes, and facts before and after the APCN training. Loyola researchers analyzed these data and found that the results contradicted some of APCN’s early assumptions about the degree of ministers’ knowledge about HIV and their activities in the targeted communities. For example, the researchers found that most clergy began the trainings with a significant degree of knowledge regarding HIV/AIDS and did not have initial attitudes about the illness that would prevent them from being personally or professionally involved in HIV prevention ministry. In the Centro Project, even though more than 6,000 people in faith congregations received HIV prevention information, the failure to reach the goal of establishing a self-sustaining HIV prevention ministry with churches in the community was not because of ministers’ inattention but because of the lack of continued funding for the project. Similar to the Centro Project, the South Shore project was also successful in bringing HIV education and prevention information into the local com-munities through established religious congregations. However, this project also did not transition into a locally based permanent HIV/AIDS ministry through local clergy associations, as had initially been planned. The reasons for this failure had less to do with funding and more to do with organizational and cultural resistance to evaluation projects. As many social science researchers and government officials have found, there continues to be substantial resistance to anything called “research” in African American com-munities. The specter of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study is very much alive and well (Brandt, 1978; Gamble, 1987; Jones, 1993). APCN staff wanted to determine how they could address this specter and at the same time change ideas found within the culture of ministry itself about program evaluation. This project was funded for two years with the hope that APCN itself would be prepared to conduct evaluation research. In the second year of the project, the Loyola researchers refocused their attention from primary evaluation consultation to that of helping APCN staff design both a theoretical model and practical instruments for conducting the evaluation of HIV ministry programs. This decision was made due to the many organizational changes occurring at APCN, including its merger with a local community health organization, the departure of all APCN staff involved with both the Centro and South Shore projects, and the partnership difficulties faced in light of these personnel changes. Together, the Loyola researchers and the new APCN staff and leadership had to learn how to be flexible and agreed that we needed to change the nature of the project from being a primary FOR THE USE OF GRAND CANYON UNIVERSITY STUDENTS AND FACULTY ONLY. NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION, SALE, OR REPRINTING. ANY AND ALL UNAUTHORIZED USE IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Copyright © 2012 by evaluation project to one in which we could contribute to the national dialogue on faith-based programming and how to practically implement HIV ministry programs, with evaluation in mind, in faith communities. Unique Challenges to Evaluation Work in Ministry Settings Evaluation work can be challenging in many different settings, but the ministry setting brings its own unique challenges. By its nature, ministry’s goals are beyond “helping others” as many social services are. Ministries’ goals can also include recruiting new members and doing “God’s work.” Due in part to these goals and assumptions, the question of the ministry’s overall effectiveness may go unasked. Often there is a higher value placed on a minister’s ability to be charismatic and relational than being structured and detail oriented. Together, the Loyola researchers and APCN staff constructed a manual or tool kit in order to guide the agency’s work. This manual consisted of templates of evaluation surveys for HIV programs; a step-by-step outline of HIV ministry evaluation processes in the context of the city of Chicago, for example, knowing the ministerial alliances or aldermen (city council representatives) in a neighborhood; and a pamphlet connecting ministry and evaluation titled “Evaluation as Ministry. ”In this pamphlet, we discussed evaluation research in terms of push/pull factors. As push factors, we suggested that the good thing about doing an evaluation is that a ministry can find out whether it is meeting the needs of the community and accomplishing the things it set out to do. In other words, we tried to show how evaluation takes the guesswork out of “So how did you think that went?” We provided a scenario about an HIV ministry program in a church and how evaluation may have helped the program be successful. We also addressed the issue of how the term evaluation can provoke feelings of mistrust and suspicion and provided some questions and examples of non-threatening evaluation and how it could be used in ministry settings. The pamphlet became more of a living document as opposed to something set in type so that APCN was able to tailor and change parts of the pamphlet for different groups, for example, Pentecostal ministers versus American Baptist ministers. The pull factors for evaluation may be even more important and compel-ling. Because of the church/state separation tradition in our country, churches and congregations until recently have not been able to access government funding whenever there is a question about proselytizing as a part of the program. This lack of familiarity with funders, most of whom insist on evaluation, puts ministries at a disadvantage in the larger social service market. While there are advantages to getting some outside help to support FOR THE USE OF GRAND CANYON UNIVERSITY STUDENTS AND FACULTY ONLY. NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION, SALE, OR REPRINTING. ANY AND ALL UNAUTHORIZED USE IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Copyright © 2012 by 222——Public Sociology different church ministries, there is often the expectation by the grant giver that program evaluations be done and reported back to them. From their standpoint, this is an important tool for monitoring whether or not the money they have given is making the hoped-for difference in a community. From a ministry’s standpoint, evaluation can be more work and seem like a hassle at times. However, we tried to portray evaluation as a win-win situation. With evaluation tools, pastors and ministers can find out whether their ministries are making a difference. Also, by including evaluation in these ministries, HIV/AIDS ministry programs can broaden their funding possibilities, and in the end, be able to help more people. Recommendations It would be naive to suggest that all ministers are, or will be, receptive to reframing the evaluation process as an important part of ministry work. Like anyone, ministers may not want to know whether their pro-grams are effective or not. For many, ministry programs are part of what minister’s feel is their calling, and maybe for them just having the program is enough. How do you measure the “Spirit” or “God’s Love”? There are multiple challenges to introducing evaluation in ways that make sense to ministers and congregations. Agencies and researchers need to find ways to engage willing and not-so-willing ministers and congregations in dialogue. This can make more transparent the ways those congregations already evaluate their ministry and methods by which they can formalize that process and maintain its consistency with the mission of each of the local congregations. Stemming from this project, there are four recommendations for implementing research evaluation in HIV/AIDS and ministry programs: 1. Recognize that the focus of many ministries is on the group of people in the world who are in desperate need and have run out of places to turn. HIV/AIDS is just one of many social and personal problems faced in the low-income and primarily minority communities. The ability of local congregations to turn on a dime and marshal resources with zero or limited requirements or restrictions on clients and programs has been crucial in the battle against HIV/AIDS. Helping people and communities who are affected by HIV/AIDS can be an overwhelming experience for ministers and congregations. At the same time, there is still a fair amount of authority granted to ministers that goes unquestioned in congregations. This authority often leads to a lack of accountability for ministry programs and leaves unanswered FOR THE USE OF GRAND CANYON UNIVERSITY STUDENTS AND FACULTY ONLY. NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION, SALE, OR REPRINTING. ANY AND ALL UNAUTHORIZED USE IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Copyright © 2012 by congregational interests and desires to integrate HIV/AIDS programs into the mission of the church. The lack of familiarity with funders who require evaluation puts ministries at a disadvantage in grant applications. In the end, any kind of good evaluation training can help ministers and congregations be sure of the effectiveness of their programs and may even help them be competitive for future funding opportunities. 2. Understand and address the long-standing tension between ministry culture and social science research and social service programs. Social science research is often seen as uncaring and inadequate in measuring spiritual transformation of people and communities. In Christian ministries especially there is often an attitude that the very idea of evaluation is contrary to the central teachings of the church. The question of ministry’s measurable, earthly effectiveness is often asked and answered by considering abstract or ambiguous qualities like being charismatic rather than looking at qualities that are measurable, such as being organized or attentive to details. Theological education teaches, legitimately, that simply by being present to others’ needs and representing God’s will and presence in the midst of that need is sufficient for mutual transformation. Even among the most professional ministers, there is an absence of theological language that supports outcome measures and evaluation. This supports the functional belief that to simply “show up” for ministry is blessed. The subsequent rationalization, “Well, at least I’m here” can be helpful in sustaining ministries but is not conducive to evaluation questions about the effectiveness of ministry. If evaluators and social scientists can begin to understand this tension, then they can begin to address this tension in a way that is supportive rather than dismissive of ministries. 3. Recognize that the ministries of most congregations are staffed by volunteers with scant training or evaluation background. Working with ministers is hard but working with volunteers is even more challenging. Volunteers in faith communities generally measure their success on the following intangibles: recruiting new members and doing “God’s work”; how consistent they feel their work is with their faith or values; and how “graced and blessed” the ministry is. As with work in social service agencies, it can be difficult to see what difference volunteers are making. For researchers, working with volunteers means learning to effectively communicate in a non-challenging manner. For instance, we have to find ways to explain why we may want to ask for people’s names and addresses on a sign-in log or why we might want to know why a person is attending a FOR THE USE OF GRAND CANYON UNIVERSITY STUDENTS AND FACULTY ONLY. NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION, SALE, OR REPRINTING. ANY AND ALL UNAUTHORIZED USE IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Copyright © 2012 by 224——Public Sociology workshop beyond the call from God to do so. When volunteers are also helping in the evaluation, researchers need to be prepared for things to go wrong or be less systematic than the protocol demands. At the same time, by helping in the evaluation, the volunteers begin to understand why researchers ask the kinds of questions that they do. 4. HIV/AIDS ministry programs must have a progressive theological message in order to have effective outreach into the community. Pastors, ministers, and congregants are both part of the problem and part of the solution to creating better and more just HIV/AIDS ministries. In addition to helping pastors and ministers learn about evaluation techniques, they must acquire a different theological perspective to help them effectively minister to all people in their community who are affected in some way by HIV/AIDS. It is not enough to conduct social scientific or medical programs about HIV/AIDS to clergy and lay leaders. We found that contrary to what was thought, ministers did have a basic understanding of medical and scientific knowledge about HIV transmission or AIDS. Ultimately what is going to help more people in the community is the progressive, non-damning theological message of love, acceptance, and knowledge. Not all ministers or ministries are willing to do this. References Brandt, A. (1978). Racism and research: The case of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Hastings Center Report, 8(6), 21–29. Gamble, V. N. (1997). Under the shadow of Tuskegee: African Americans and health care. American Journal of Public Health, 87(11), 1773–1777.Jones, J. H. (1993). Bad blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. New York, NY: Free Press.Mertz, J. P. (1997). The role of churches in helping adolescents prevent HIV/AIDS. Journal of HIV/AIDS Prevention & Education for Adolescents & Children, 1(2), 45-55.