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Collaborative Research

This group is intended as a discussion space for collaborative research projects where people in different contexts work together to address issues they are interested in.

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Latest Activity: Aug 19

Introduction to participatory action research (for complex adaptive problems)


PAR in the WASH sector 1 Reply

Here a link to PAR work initiated by IRC International Water and…Continue


Started by Peter J. Bury. Last reply by Philipp Grunewald Feb 10.

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Comment by Philipp Grunewald on February 6, 2014 at 4:17pm

Short and readable: Collective impact. On collaboration:

Comment by Nancy White on February 6, 2014 at 3:03pm

Living. Magic.

Comment by Philipp Grunewald on February 6, 2014 at 1:21pm

I think so. Their underlying philosophies and values are very similar to what we are looking for I believe.

However, they struggle as much with conventional thinking as we do (funding, demonstrating impact, etc.). It is those boundaries where different ways of thinking meet that I think the magic happens. I am trying, sort of, to find the middle way.

Comment by Nancy White on February 6, 2014 at 1:15pm

Isn't this what movements like Transition Towns are all about? Living it, vs making something an empheral project? 

Comment by Philipp Grunewald on February 6, 2014 at 1:08pm

Hello all,

Nancy, I am in a position where I think that I do not want to engage in something where I feel I foster dependencies. Whenever we do not address unequal relationships we are (unconsciously) reinforcing them and I think there is plenty about without me adding. So, if PAR does not happen on an equal contribution basis I just feel I should stay out of it.

This is where John's comment comes in; not many consultants get to play that role. You are making this call now (we will go away if not...) but that is possible because you can!

I agree with John and would say that actually most learning happens when we look away. The things we take for granted are the things that have the biggest impact on who we are. But then how do we imagine a different future and change things if conscious commitment does not play a role?

Comment by Nancy White on February 6, 2014 at 1:03pm

Scroll down to "A new way of learning" and read...


Participating is learning. By observing and chiming in with your ideas in an online community, over time you’re learning several things: the domain of the community (i.e. code, techno, lolzcatz), and how to communicate within it (i.e. communication tools, but also etiquette, are emotiji appropriate?). An online presence is a blend of “soft” and “hard” skills, and they are interconnected.

Communities decide what’s acceptable. Voting an answer up-or-down, liking a post, or remixing a project--these are different levels of granularity, but anyone in the community can give feedback on any project. The community decides what’s good and what’s not, and folks who make stellar contributions are celebrated.

Feedback is key. It’s actually a core skill in a community of practice. Whether it’s leaving a comment on a post, suggestions on a project, or answering an open question, giving feedback is a way to apply the norms and values of a community. Giving feedback is also a kind of learning--in and of itself."

Comment by John Smith on February 6, 2014 at 12:09pm

One critical element that I saw in that System Convener idea was that such people seem to have some kind of power or social base from which to operate.  They manage to keep at it "after the report" and were observing the landscape of practice "before the project."  So not many consultants for hire get to play that role because we come and go so readily.  (That's one reason I have a strong commitment to roles where I am not a consultant and therefore my learning is not curtailed when the money runs out.)

Both Nancy and Philipp are talking about deliberate, conscious commitment.  It seems to me that a lot of learning happens when we are looking the other way, where our commitments "have us" rather than "us having commitment."

Comment by Nancy White on February 6, 2014 at 10:35am

AND... I want to contradict my own crazy self. The PAR I'm working on now would stop dead if two of us did not keep plugging away. The really great thing about that is she and I are learning a lot. The bad thing is we are creating dependency on the part of others. They see value, but they have no vested stake in the game. We are a gift. And in two weeks, we are presenting our initial findings and saying that the gift is going away. If they want more, than have to put something into the game. 

Comment by Nancy White on February 6, 2014 at 10:33am

Oh, and may I say, I hate a discussion tool that sends me alerts but not the content of the message. Grin.

Comment by Nancy White on February 6, 2014 at 10:33am

Just sayin "YEAH" to this:

"In a way systems convening is what we all do with every single contribution to the social structures around us. We can put down a flag everywhere and claim that this is the centre or define and that the boundaries are over there but this is not an answer to the question at an "essence" level."

I have a real split personality reaction to the role of systems convener you mention John. I totally see the value. And I worry that this is just another excuse for all of us to not take responsibility.  Does that make sense?



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