Participatory Action Research

Participatory research attempts to present people as researchers themselves in pursuit of answers to the questions of their daily struggle and survival.
— Rajesh Tandon, Community Forestry & Environmental Research Partnerships

Although the CETC campus stands alone as a successful example of the inclusive nature of green building, its further utility depends on our ability to adhere to each of the Participatory Action Research principles.

These are in no way a definitive list, but a starting point provided by the Community Forestry & Environmental Research Partnerships at UC Berkeley:

1. Recognizes community as a unit of identity; This research should work explicitly with communities, which may be defined by a geographic area, or defined as a community of identity that is geographically dispersed but members hold a sense of common identity and shared fate.

2. Builds on strengths and resources within the community; This research should explicitly identify, support and reinforce social structures, processes, and knowledge already existing in the community that help them work together to improve their lives.

Working with parents to build a healthy program to give smoothies to students for breakfast each day

Working with parents to build a healthy program to give smoothies to students for breakfast each day

3. Facilitates collaborative partnerships in all phases of the research; This research should involve community members in every phase they want to participate in, including but not limited to: problem definition, data collection, interpretation of results, and application of the results to address community concerns. This may involve applying skills from outside the community, but should focus on issues identified by the community and create situations in which all parties can truly influence the entire research process.

4. Integrates knowledge and action for mutual benefit of all partners; Though the research project itself might not include a direct action component, all parties must have a commitment to applying the research results to a social change effort intended to benefit all partners.

5. Promotes a co-learning and empowering process that attends to social inequalities; This research should recognize the inherent inequalities between marginalized communities and researchers, and attempt to address these by emphasizing knowledge of community members and sharing information, resources and decision-making power.

6. Involves a cyclical and iterative process; This research should involve trust-building, partnership development and maintenance in all phases of the research.

7. Disseminates findings and knowledge gained to all partners; This research should disseminate information gained in a respectful and understandable language that acknowledges all participants’ contributions and ownership of the knowledge production.