December 15, 2020
(HOUSTON, TX) - Professor Allen Rubin, who holds the GCSW Jean Kantambu Latting College Professorship of Leadership and Social Change has published his latest book, "Program Evaluation: Pragmatic Methods for Social Work and Human Service Agencies" via Cambridge University Press.
Throughout his career spanning over 50 years, Professor Rubin has focused on improving social work practice, policies, and programs through his research and teachings.
Read more about what inspired him to publish this text and how his work in program evaluation furthers the GCSW's vision of achieving social justice.
Name: Allen Rubin
Current Position: Professor of Social Work and Jean Kantambu Latting College Professorship of Leadership and Social Change
Your career has focused on evaluating social work practices, policies, and interventions in mental health and human services. What are some of the goals you hope to achieve in publishing your new textbook, "Program Evaluation: Pragmatic Methods for Social Work and Human Service Agencies"?
I have been engaged in teaching program evaluation throughout my entire professional 50-year career. My experience has opened my eyes to the fact that much of what has been written and taught about program evaluation has been insufficiently attuned to the real-world barriers. Successful program evaluation is methodologically valid and useful in service-oriented social work and human service agencies. My concern is particularly applicable to social workers assigned to program evaluation tasks early in their careers. Guided by a philosophy of idealistic pragmatism and not letting the perfect become the enemy of the good, I set out to write a book that would be a better fit for realistic program evaluation. This text emphasizes practical methods for them to employ in their early careers while simultaneously being sufficiently valid to guide agency decision-making.
On a personal level, why was it essential for you to complete this publication?
It was personally important to me to write this book because so many of my program evaluation endeavors made me realize that much of what I had been taught about evaluation was not feasible in the service-oriented settings that had engaged me as an evaluator.
Why do you believe it is imperative for human services professionals and social workers to understand, implement, and evaluate the efficacy of their programs and services?
Two main reasons underlie my belief that it is imperative to assess the efficacy of social welfare policies, programs, and interventions, as follows: Too frequently, scientific evaluations have found some programs that seemed theoretically sound (and which were quite popular) to be ineffective (and in some instances harmful). However, more recently – with the emergence of the evidence-based practice movement – sound evaluations are finding more effective alternatives to the earlier efforts. Since so much has been unhelpful, we have an ethical obligation to conduct evaluations to ensure that we are doing everything possible to learn what helps people while not wasting resources.
How does your new textbook's publication fit into the GCSW's vision of achieving social, racial, economic, and political justice?
My commitment to social justice is not new. It dates back to the 1960s when my engagement in civil rights and antiwar activities occasionally resulted in very unpleasant encounters with police. But I believe that to achieve our aims; we must evaluate our efforts and be idealistically pragmatic, which requires being politically savvy and not overreaching by espousing slogans that can backfire. As the Beatles once sang, "But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow."
"Program Evaluation: Pragmatic Methods for Social Work and Human Service Agencies" is published by Cambridge University Press and is available through their website.