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Participatory action research

Over fifty years ago, participatory action research (PAR) was initiated to promote democracy and tilt the balance of power towards society’s poor or marginalized groups. PAR was seen as a process for communities to work together towards change, the degree of participant engagement more important than the research methodology or the techniques employed. The overarching goal of change set forth social interactions focused on the environment’s improvement.

Because it is collaborative and relevant to locally important issues, PAR conforms to the community’s aspirations.

PAR evolves in an iteration of inquiry and adjustment that allows for the novel adaptation of existing resources. This adaptability is critical when dealing with complex environmental problems in a dynamic environment. In addition, the pooling of stakeholder skills and expertise facilitates the resolution of complex problems. 


Image credit: Jacques M. Chevalier and Daniel J. Buckles, SAS² Dialogue,

Participating in cycles of inquiry and subsequent action enhances participants’ recognition of their social and cultural context and their propensity to change that context. With restoration in mind, participatory action research equates to ecosystem improvement progressing in cycles of inquiry and action, propelled by community voice.

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