Evans, Scotney

Associate Professor, Director of major in Human and Social Development
Educational and Psychological Studies
Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, Ph.D. Community Research and Action, 2005
Critical community psychology; social change collaborations, coalitions and networks; community engagement; power and critical theory; organizational and network theory; critical youth engagement; youth homelessness.

I am a community-engaged researcher working to understand and support the role of community-based organizations, networks, and coalitions in building collective power to promote community wellbeing, social change, and social justice. I utilize an action research approach with community partners in order to uncover injustice and build community capacity for social change.

My research activity is grounded in the theories and principles of critical community psychology. Critical community psychologists consider society unjust for too many and they want to do something about it. Beyond research and social critique, we endorse the need for emancipatory actions that lead to increased social justice and social transformation. Research with this disciplinary grounding is transformative, participatory, practical, and oriented towards social change. As Torre and colleagues (2012) suggest, critical inquiry of this kind “deliberately shifts the gaze from ‘what’s wrong with that person?’ to ‘what are the policies, institutions, and social arrangements that help to form and deform, enrich and limit, human development?’ and ‘how do people resist the weight of injustice in their lives?’” (p. 20). In practice, I employ action research as my primary research methodology, utilizing a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods with community partners to generate useful knowledge to inform action. By working alongside community groups working towards community well-being and social justice, I use research to help inform their actions while simultaneously learning from their efforts. Taken together, my research philosophy or epistemology can be understood as critical pragmatism.

I received my Ph.D. in Community Research and Action at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University and hold a master’s degree in Human Development Counseling also from Vanderbilt.
In my current role as an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational and Psychological Studies in the School of Education and Human Development I teach and advise students in the master’s program in Community and Social Change and the PhD program in Community Well-being. I also currently direct the undergraduate major in Human and Social Development (HSD). I was recently elected to position of “Regional Network Coordinator” for the Society of Community Research and Action (SCRA, Division 27 of the American Psychological Association). I am also the founding co-editor of “Collaborations: A Journal of Community-Based Research and Practice.”

View Curriculum Vitae

(*graduate student co-authors; **undergraduate student co-authors; ***community partner co-authors)

Evans, S. D., Duckett, P., Lawthom, R., Kivell, N.* (2017). Positioning the critical in community psychology. In M. A. Bond, I. Serrano-García, and C. B. Keys (Eds.). APA Handbook of Community Psychology: Vol. 1. Theoretical Foundations, Core Concepts, and Emerging Challenges. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Evans, S.D., Kivell, N.* (2015) The transformation team: An enabling structure for organizational learning in action. Journal of Community Psychology, 43(6), 760-777.

Evans, S.D. (2015). The Community Psychologist as critical friend: Promoting critical community praxis. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 25 (4). doi: 10.1002/casp.2213.

Evans, S.D., Kivell, N.*, Haarlammert, M.*, Malhotra, K.*, & Rosen, A.* (2014). Critical community practice: An introduction to the special section. Journal of Social Action in Counseling and Psychology, 6(1), 1-15.

Evans, S.D., Raymond, C***. & Levine, D***. (2014). Miami’s third sector alliance for community well-being. Progress in Community Health Partnerships

Evans, S.D., Rosen, A.*, Kesten, S.M.*, & Moore, W.** (2014). Miami Thrives: Weaving a poverty reduction network. American Journal of Community Psychology, 53 (3), 357-368.

Nelson, G., & Evans, S.D. (2014). Critical Community Psychology and Qualitative Research: A Conversation. Qualitative Inquiry, 20(2), 157 - 165.

Evans, S.D., Rosen, A.*, Nelson, G. (2014). Community Psychology and Social Justice. In Johnson, C.V., Friedman, H.L., Diaz, J., Franco, Z., and Nastasi, B.K (Eds.), Praeger Handbook of Social Justice and Psychology. Praeger.

Evans, S. D., Raymond, C.***, & Perkins, D. D. (2014). Organizational and community capacity building. In V. C. Scott & S. M. Wolfe (Eds.), Community Psychology: Foundations for Practice (pp. 189–219). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc

Evans, S.D., Malhotra, K*. & Headley, A.M**. (2013). Promoting learning and critical reflexivity through an organizational case study project. Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community, 41(2), 105-112.

Evans, S.D. (2012). Well-being. In T. Teo (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology. Springer Verlag.

Evans, SD. (2012). Community leadership. Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice, 3(3), 1-6.

Evans, S., Prilleltensky, O., McKenzie, A., Prilleltensky, I., Nogueras, D., Huggins, C*., & Mescia, N*. (2011). Promoting Strengths, Prevention, Empowerment, and Community Change Through Organizational Development: Lessons for Research, Theory, and Practice. Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community, 39(1), 50-64.

The Engagement, Power, and Social Action Research Team (EPSA) - is made up of doctoral, masters, and undergraduate students. We engaged in a wide range of issues with a common focus on power, community engagement, and collective action. We utilize an action research approach with community partners in order to uncover injustice and build community capacity for social change. Through community-engaged research and action we:

  1. Build and sustain mutually beneficial community partnerships that transcend any particular project;
  2. Work alongside community partners to better understand social problems and create transformative solutions. 
  3. Work to co-develop useful frameworks for community engagement, critical practice and social change; and 
  4. Create a learning culture for all members of the research team to contribute in a meaningful way while building on our individual strengths.


Current research project(s): 

1. The Social Justice Table is a university-engaged coalition of over forty Miami-based social justice organizations that seeks to promote effective collaboration and the development of shared learning, shared problem analysis, and joint community action strategies to build collective power for social change. SJT is accomplishing this through co-designed learning activities and strategies that build the capacity of organizations, coalitions, and communities. The EPSA team is a full partner in this initiative and also serving as action researchers. Research opportunities include community based process observation and field notes, participant interviews and transcription, survey data analysis, social network data collection and analysis, literature review, report writing.

2. The Miami Dade Youth Homelessness Initiative brings organizations together to address and prevent youth homelessness in south Florida. The EPSA team participates on the research and evaluation committee for the initiative and informs data collection, analysis, and use of data in the initiative. We are currently engaged in a pilot study to map the network of formal and informal resources for homeless youth in the county and determine the level of systems integration. System integration is “the provision of services with high levels of coordination, communication, trust, and respect among service agencies so that they are better able to work together to achieve common objectives" (Greenberg & Rosenheck, 2010, p. 185). Research opportunities include community based process observation and field notes, survey data analysis, social network data collection and analysis, literature review, report writing.

3. The Liberty Square Rising Community Engagement Consortium is a project in partnership between the Florida International University Metropolitan Center and the University of Miami Office of Civic and Community Engagement. Miami-Dade County is embarking upon an ambitious revitalization of the Liberty Square housing development that seeks to transform the neighborhood by improving the quality of the housing units and public spaces. The EPSA research team will take the lead role in informing and documenting the community engagement practices of the overall project.  Research opportunities include community based process observation and field notes, literature review, report writing.

Dr. Evans and the EPSA team is also involved in several additional smaller-scale, community-based evaluation and consultation projects.

Natalie Kivell, M.A., Doctoral Candidate
University of Miami, Community Well Being PhD Program

  • Dissertation Proposal (In Preparation): Power and problem framing: Building our understanding of transformation through studying up.
  • Qualifying Exam (2016): What makes transformation transformative? Developing a theoretical framework to draw a line in the sand

Alison Kasney, B.A.
University of Miami, Community and Social Change Master’s Program

  • M.S.Ed (Expected 2017)