Using Participatory Action Research to Improve Development Practice

Participatory Action Research (PAR) engages people in communities as agents of change. Traditionally, development project ‘beneficiaries’ have rarely been included in researching issues, finding solutions, designing indicators or measuring change.  PAR provides a way of changing this, offering an inclusive community-driven approach to development. It is also an effective way of building participatory learning into organisations supporting development and social change. This course equips development professionals with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills to design, develop and conduct context-sensitive PAR. The course draws on a range of PAR processes and methods which enable change to happen at scale both in organisations and across communities. These are of particular importance to development practitioners and researchers today, as they can help ensure interventions are relevant, appropriate and inclusive. Whether you work in the global South or North, this approach will encourage a more people-centred way of developing, delivering and assessing your projects and programmes of work. The diversity of course participants from a wide array of development organisations has supported rich experiential learning and has led to the emergence of a network of participatory action researchers who have continued to learn from each other.  We are excited to be running this course for the third year. (Danny Burns, IDS Fellow and course co-convenor)