Participatory Action Research and International Development

Thursday, Nov 12, 2015
5:00 - 6:30 pm
Room 9-451


Presented by Alison Coffey, Inclusive Regional Development, MIT CoLab; Jenna Harvey, MCP Canidate, MIT; and Alyssa Bryson, Program Director, Inclusive Regional Development, MIT CoLab

In this session, Alison Coffey and Jenna Harvey will share their experience working on a Participatory Action Research project with a group of young people from PalmasLab, an innovation space housed within Instituto Banco Palmas.  Instituto Banco Palmas is a community development bank offering financial and other socially-oriented services in Conjunto Palmeiras, a neighborhood on the periphery of Fortaleza, Brazil.  Over nine weeks in the summer of 2015, through a partnership between MIT CoLab, Palmas Lab, and the MIT Brazil program, Alison and Jenna collaborated with the Palmas Lab team to design a research plan and methodology to explore PalmasLab's question of how Conjunto Palmeiras residents experience, access, and engage with different material and immaterial "wealths" and "poverties" in their neighborhood.  

The presentation will highlight different elements of the research process in the context of CoLab's approach to advancing inclusive development, including co-production of a research question and methodology, the translation of research results into meaningful action for the organizations, and key challenges that emerged.  They will also share insights and reflections from the team about the role of PAR within a community financial institution for imagining, theorizing, and enacting alternative economies.


MIT CoLab invites you to a weekly Participatory Action Research (PAR) speaker series on Thursday from October 15th - November 19th, 2015 from 5:00-6:30 PM in Room 9-451.  These talks are free and open to the public. 

PAR is a collaborative approach to inquiry, scholarship, and social justice in which the boundaries between "subjects" and "researchers" are blurred.  The subjects are no longer objects and become partners in the research process, which includes selection of the research topic, data collection and analysis, as well as decision-making about what action should happen as a result of the research findings.  Since PAR values situated knowledge and lived experience, innovation research methods outside the standard scientific framework are crucial to obtaining and analyzing information.  

In this series, we will explore how different individuals and organizations are practicing elements of participatory action research in their work to fight for labor rights, promote economic democracy, and organize against racial discrimination in the United States and abroad.  Futhermore, we will learn about creative methods to capture and disseminate knowledge with the aim of advancing social justice.