How ethical are you?

July 25, 2013

In some of the research courses I teach, ethics is one of the topics we cover. In a university, ethics applies to many areas of our work including how we interact with our students and our research assistants, how we grade students’ work and how we conduct research.

Research involving human subjects must receive official approval from the university’s Independent Review Board (IRB) before we are allowed to begin our research. This applies equally to faculty and students.

Sometimes students are quite puzzled by this idea. They ask me, “Why does an independent board have to give you ethics clearance before you start a research project? Shouldn’t people just do the right thing?”

The problem is that sometimes people don’t do the right thing. Or they don’t think through what they are doing to understand what impact of their research or actions might have on others.

In 1971 Dr. Zimbardo conducted a psychological study that became known as the Stanford Prison Experiment. Stanford University students were used as research subjects in the study, which was designed to simulate prison life. The experiment was planned for two weeks, but the shut down the experiment after only six days. The students who were role-playing as guards had become sadistic and malicious. Those who were role-playing as prisoners became depressed and showed signs of severe stress.

The experiment revealed a great deal about human behaviour and how power in a relationship can be easily abused.

The Stanford Prison Experiment has become a classic case to talk about when we learn about professional ethics.

In today’s world, it is unlikely that the experiment conducted by Dr. Zimbardo over 40 years ago would receive ethics clearance from an independent review board. It’s not that Dr. Zimbardo broke any laws. It’s that the risks to the research subjects would be too high.

It is worth noting that professional ethics goes beyond research. Inevitably, our class discussions get around to ethical conduct as part of every day professional practice. Students begin to develop an awareness of how their actions, words and attitudes may be harmful or unethical. I often recommend that they read Better Ethics Now: How to Avoid the Ethics Disaster You Never Saw Coming by Dr. Chris Bauer. He demystifies the topic of ethics in plain and simple language that is easy to understand.

Sometimes they ask me, “How do I know if what I am doing is ethical?”

I usually answer them in two ways:

Firstly, if you have to ask yourself that question, then chances are good that there may be an ethical issue.

Secondly, if you are really not sure, ask yourself this: If your greatest mentor was standing by your side, would they be proud of you for what you did?

That question assumes, of course, that our mentors are ethical, too. More often than not, we put our mentors up on a bit of a pedestal. We want them to be proud of us and we would feel happy if we had their approval.

If our mentors or colleagues disapprove of our actions or question our judgement, we probably are not acting in an ethical manner. Ethics isn’t about doing what’s legal. It’s about doing what’s right.

Every day we are faced with ethical choices as part of our daily professional practice. Ethics can be learned and they can be improved. That’s one of the aspects of Dr. Bauer‘s book that I really like. He let’s us know that everyone is capable of improving and learning to be more aware and more ethical every day.

Professionalism goes beyond using polite language or wearing business attire. At the core of our day-to-day interactions and professional actions, we must take care that we are never causing harm to others or putting them at any sort of risk, particularly when we are in a position of power.

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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


Creating Space for Strength: Public event

June 14, 2013

Last night, we had the opportunity to showcase eight months of work on our project “Creating Space for Strength: An Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) and Research Project for Calgary’s North Central Communities”.

The event was organized by Northern Hills Community Association. More than 50 people came to see the results of the community assessment including community leaders, citizens and funders.

Here’s a copy of the slides we used during our presentation:

Creating space for strength final report (slides) from Sarah Eaton
One aspect of this project that we found especially energizing was the inclusion of a youth consultation. I did a training session with the  Youth Council of the Northern Hills Community Association, showing them the steps to follow to do their own group consultation, so the voices of young people could be included in our results.

After the training session, the young people planned, organized and executed their own public consultation that engaged more than 50 young people from their community. After their consultation, they analyzed the results and presented their findings alongside us at last night’s event.

It’s pretty inspirational to watch a group of young people care so deeply about their community:

The event was covered by City TV and CTV, and featured an interview with a local community association leader who has been an integral part of the project.
Here’s a copy of our final report for the project (132 pages):

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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


Creating Space for Strength – Interim Final Report

May 16, 2013

In October, 2012, I began working with two other consultants, Lee Tunstall and Vilma Dawson, on a project called “Creating Space for Strength” for Calgary’s North Central Communities. We started with an asset-based community development (ABCD) approach and started researching:

  • What makes these communities good and strong?
  • What could be better?
  • How do we get there?

Our project involved interviewing residents from nine Calgary communities, conducting group community consultations and analyzing demographic data to help us understand who lives in these communities.

We are pleased to share our interim final report:

View this document on Scribd

Related posts:

  • Community Conversation – Creating Space for Strength in Calgary’s North Central Communities http://wp.me/pNAh3-1yX
  • How to Host a World Cafe: Great Resources to Help You Host a Community Conversation that Matters http://wp.me/pNAh3-1zO
  • How Community Conversations Create Powerful Possibilities http://wp.me/pNAh3-1z7
  • An Introductory Public Webinar: Creating Space for Strength An Asset-Based Community Development and Research Project Focussed on Calgary’s North Central Communities http://wp.me/pNAh3-1wq
  • 5 Great resources on asset-based community development (ABCD) http://wp.me/pNAh3-1xJ
  •  Webinar recording: Creating Space for Strength http://wp.me/pNAh3-1wI
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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Share or Tweet this: Creating Space for Strength – Interim Final Report http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Bv

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


How to Host a World Cafe: Great Resources to Help You Host a Community Conversation that Matters

March 14, 2013

Creating space for strength in Calgary - Eaton International Consulting Inc.As part of our asset-based community development (ABCD) work with the Creating Space for Strength project in Calgary, we worked together with the Northern Hills Community Association to host a community consultation. We used the “world café” format and method to ignite a powerful conversation with the community. A few people have written to me asking us how we went about it. Here are some of our favorite “how to” resources that will help you host your own world café conversations:

Web resources

Here are some of the great web resources we found and shared with our team, the community and the volunteers who are working on the project:

Carson, L. (2011). Designing a public conversation using the World Café method. Social Alternatives, 30(1), 10-14. Available from http://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/11sa/Carson.html

The World Café. (2008). Café to go: A quick reference guide for putting conversations to work. Available from http://www.theworldcafe.com/pdfs/cafetogo.pdf

Brown, J. (n.d.). A resource guide for the world café. Available from http://meadowlark.co/world_cafe_resource_guide.pdf

Brown, J. (n.d.). Speaking our worlds into being: The world café. Available from http://www.swaraj.org/shikshantar/expressions_brown.pdf

Embedding Enterprise at Newcastle University.  World café creativity exercise. Available from http://www.ncl.ac.uk/quilt/assets/documents/WorldCafeCreativityExercise.pdf

Slocum, N. (2005). Participatory methods toolkit: A practitioner’s manual: The world café: a joint publication of the King Baudouin Foundation and the Flemish Institute for Science and Technology Assessment (viWTA). Available from http://www.kbs-frb.be/uploadedFiles/KBS-FRB/Files/EN/PUB_1540_Toolkit_13_WorldCafe.pdf

Books

Our two favorite books on how to organize and run a community conversation are:

Brown, J. (2005). The world café: Shaping our futures through conversations that matter. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

With a Foreward by Margaret Wheatley and an Afterword with Peter Senge, this book is my favorite “go to” resource.

World cafe book cover

Another book to have on your book shelf (and share with others) is:

Born, P. (2008). Community conversations: Mobilizing the ideas, skills and passion of community organizations, governments, businesses and people. Toronto: BPS Books.

Paul Born’s book might be easy to miss, since it does not have the phrase “world café” in its title. It contains great wisdom though and is worth the read.

Paul Born community conversations book cover

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or leave a comment. Thanks!

Share or Tweet this: How to Host a World Cafe: Great Resources to Help You Host a Community Conversation that Matters http://wp.me/pNAh3-1zO

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


How Community Conversations Create Powerful Possibilities

February 23, 2013

The other night we held a “community conversation” as part of our “Creating Space for Strength” project. Together with my two colleagues, Lee Tunstall and Vilma Dawson, the three of us were thrilled to facilitate the evening for this amazing group of Calgarians.

Representatives from Calgary’s North Central Communities

Over 40 people attended the event, including local elected representatives, Hon. Teresa Woo-Paw, MLA for Calgary Northern Hills and Calgary Alderman, Jim Stevenson.

Creating Space for Strength - Panorama shot

Citizens from a number of Calgary communities attended:

  • Harvest Hills
  • Panorama Hills
  • Coventry Hills
  • Country Hills
  • Hidden Valley
  • MacEwan Glen
  • Sandstone Valley

World Café format

We used a “world café” style of conversation. We started off by explaining that the purpose of the meeting was to find out what mattered to community residents. Then, to take the first steps towards envisioning what the community could look like in the not-too-distant future.

People worked in groups of 5 or 6 at small tables, using key questions to guide their conversations. We asked them to jot down their key ideas and points on sticky notes. Later, volunteers collected the sticky notes from all the tables and grouped them into common themes.

We asked four key questions, framed in asset-based community development (ABCD) way:

  • What is good and strong about our community?
  • What could be better?
  • What would you like to see the community achieve in the next 5 years?
  • How do we get there?

Creating space for Strength - community conversation 1

Community-driven

Even though a team of 3 of us consultants facilitated the evening, the whole event was planned, organized and promoted mostly by Northern Hills Community Association.

This picture shows two volunteers from the community association grouping the sticky notes from each question into themes.Creating Space for Strength (Moraig and Paul)

The community association booked the space for the event (a meeting room in a local grocery store) and arranged for food and beverages. They ordered wraps, veggie and fruit trays, cheese and crackers and sweets.

They kept in mind that the population living in their communities is culturally diverse, so they were careful to pay attention to dietary restrictions such as having beef and pork products separated from other foods, and offering completely vegetarian options. The provided a variety of water, juice and soft drinks, too. There is something that brings people together over food and so this was an important element of our evening.

The community association also took the responsibility of buying all the supplies for the evening, including hundreds of sticky notes and enough markers so that everyone could have one to use.

Results

We have yet to formally analyze the data from the event, but informally I can say that by the end of the meeting, the room was buzzing with energy. Residents stayed for a long while after the event wrapped up. They wanted to talk more about their community and how to improve it.

A number of attendees took the initiative to exchange contact information and ask how they could get involved.

Overall, it was a great night that ended on an energetic and inspired note.

As always, we want to acknowledge the organizations that are making this work possible:

Project Origins – Northern Hills Constituency

Project Funders – Government of Alberta (CFEP Grant); United Way of Calgary and Area; Aspen Family and Community Network Society; Northern Hills Community Association

Project Supporters – Northern Hills Constituency; City of Calgary; Aspen Family and Community Network Society; Northern Hills Community Association; United Way of Calgary and Area

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or leave a comment. Thanks!

Share or Tweet this: How Community Conversations Create Powerful Possibilities http://wp.me/pNAh3-1z7

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


Community Conversation – Creating Space for Strength in Calgary’s North Central Communities

February 21, 2013

Creating space for strength in Calgary - Eaton International Consulting Inc.Tonight we are gearing up for a big event for our community development project. Here are the details:

Community Consultation – Creating Space for Strength: An Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) and Research Project for Calgary’s North Central Communities

The purpose of this community assessment is to find out what our communities’ strengths and assets are, what can be improved, and how. Identifying current resources, as well as needs, is a key step toward maximizing the potential for building an effective, locally relevant, and evidence-based community action plan.

We are interested in hearing your voice. We want to know what you think is working well in your community, what can be strengthened and how we can achieve the goals we set as a community.

This is an open, public consultation. Everyone is welcome. We’ll e using a “world cafe” format for the conversations.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the organizations who made this project possible:

Project Origins – Northern Hills Constituency

Project Funders – Government of Alberta (CFEP Grant); United Way of Calgary and Area; Aspen Family and Community Network Society; Northern Hills Community Association

Project Supporters – Northern Hills Constituency; City of Calgary; Aspen Family and Community Network Society; Northern Hills Community Association; United Way of Calgary and Area

Here’s a link to our Eventbrite site: http://creatingspacecommunityconsultation.eventbrite.com

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or leave a comment. Thanks!

Share or Tweet this: Community Conversation – Creating Space for Strength in Calgary’s North Central Communities http://wp.me/pNAh3-1yX

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


5 Great resources on asset-based community development (ABCD)

December 17, 2012

Creating space for strength in Calgary - Eaton International Consulting Inc.I have been working with two other consultants on a project called “Creating Space for Strength: An Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) and Research Project Focussed on Calgary’s North Central Communities”. Our approach to the work is strength-based, using the ABCD model. We are working with some amazing people and organizations who are deeply committed to making to the lives of the people who live in their communities better.

As part of our work, we are helping them to build their understanding and capacity around the ABCD approach. Here are 5 of our favorite resources on asset-based community development:

  1. Coady Institute. (n.d.). An asset-based approach to community development: A manual for village organizers Available from http://coady.stfx.ca/tinroom/assets/file/resources/abcd/SEWA%20ABCD%20Manual.pdf
  2. Kretzmann, J. P., & McKnight, J. L. (1993). Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets. Skokie, IL: ACTA Publications.
  3. Kretzmann, J. P., McKnight, J. L., Dobrowolski, S., & Puntenney, D. (2005). Discovering Community Power: A Guide to Mobilizing Local Assets and Your Organization’s Capacity. from the Asset-Based Community Development Institute, School of Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University: http://www.abcdinstitute.org/docs/kelloggabcd.pdf
  4. Nelson, B., Campbell, J., & Emanuel, J. (2011). Development of a method for asset based working Available from http://www.nwph.net/phnw/writedir/da0dNW%20JSAA.pdf
  5. Miller, S. (n.d.). Asset-based community development.   Retrieved October 15, 2012, from http://www.slideshare.net/sadierynmiller/asset-based-community-development

We gratefully acknowledge the organizations who have made this project possible:

  • Project Origins – NorthernHills Constituency
  • Project Funders – Government of Alberta (CFEP Grant); United Way of Calgary and Area; Aspen Family and Community Network Society; NorthernHills Community Association
  • Project Supporters – NorthernHills Constituency; City of Calgary; Aspen Family and Community Network Society; NorthernHills Community Association; United Way of Calgary and Area

Related post: Webinar recording: Creating Space for Strength http://wp.me/pNAh3-1wI

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Share or Tweet this: 5 Great resources on asset-based community development (ABCD) http://wp.me/pNAh3-1xJ

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.



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