Cases in Participatory Research for Community Engagement

epi's plans to provide a forum for members of the PARnetwork to post case studies in the use of PAR to inspire the use of PAR in economic development, natural resource management, sustainability and more. By providing an online communication system for action learning among PAR practitioners, epi's web 2.0 site may be ideal for the evaluation of PAR strategies. We plan a research agenda that answers to what extent PAR strategies optimize planning objectives by agency and by issue.  Wish us luck :  )

In particular, we hope that members will contribute case studies that lead the way towards participatory and open governance.  On the day following his inauguration, President Obama issued a Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies (1/21/09) which stated that in addition to being transparent and collaborative: “Government should be participatory."

"Public engagement enhances the Government's effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions. Knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge. Executive departments and agencies should offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policymaking and to provide their Government with the benefits of their collective expertise and information. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public input on how we can increase and improve opportunities for public participation in Government.”

Participatory research is by definition participatory;  the time is ripe to promote participatory research. epi's Participatory Strategies Group (PSG) seeks to build capacity for demonstrable participatory engagement at every level of governance—from community engagement to stakeholder involvement to interagency collaboration and beyond.  epi's PARnetwork and is library of PAR case studies offer an opportunity to test a range of strategies to meet the President’s stated goals. 

Development of the PAR Case Study Library

PSG plans to post case studies starting in August 2010.  We plan to group cases under the following themes:  Sustainability; Economic Development; Natural Resource Management;  and, Other Cases. epi's Participatory Strategies Group welcomes your submissions.  For consideration, please prepare and send  PAR case studies to info at  We will review summaries of 250 words or less.  Upon initial approval, PSG will request completion of a comprehensive description.

Research Program

PSG plans to build three initiatives from this foundation of case material: one, indicators of open governance; two, indicators of community well-being; and three, indicators of ecosystem stewardship.  These initiatives are expected to results in practical applications of general indicators and issue specific indicators in economic development, resource management and sustainability.

epi's web icons are images of 19th century scientific instruments and cultural resources.  Our icons are meant to evoke the observational strategies of Charles Darwin and other scientists including biologists, naturalists, anthropologists and even physicists. These set the stage for epi's blog: Hiking with Darwin.

About the page icon:  Darwin's theory of natural selection drew in part from his early involvement in specimen collection for the herbarium of the University of Cambridge.  Naturalists of the time documented origin, date collected, species, and quantity among other data. The specimen shown is amaryllis in the herbarium of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, collected in 1732.