Everyday we ask questions to gain knowledge that will help us improve our lives. What is the best route to get to school or work? Why is my friend acting the way they are? How can I get access to that job I want? This is research. But what happens when we do this as a group and we focus on questions that get at the root of challenges and injustices in our communities? Our experience in the CP3 Program is that collective, systematic research can lead to greater community power.
Movements that transformed the status quo have long carried out their own research, from the early work to build the civil rights movement through hubs like the Highlander Center, to liberation movements in Latin America, and many others. These movements created new ways to think about research. They changed notions of whose knowledge is valid and what counts as "expertise." They remade research to begin with the lived experience people have and our dreams for our future.
This looks different in every place it occurs because each community’s vision, context and priorities are unique. It is also known by many different names. Sometimes it is not named at all.
The principles and processes of participatory action research are highly adaptable, whether for a process that lasts a few hours or one that spans a year. New tools have expanded the possibilities for this work, from digital mapping technologies to internet repositories of powerful data to using social media platforms for gathering and sharing new knowledge.
We help our partners plan and carry out participatory action research processes that match their capacity and goals. This collaboration can help with decisions on the right tools and methods to match your goals, whether they are focused on leadership development, policy change, shifting public narratives, or others.