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Centre for Social Justice and Community Action

Events, seminars and training

Participatory Action Research 1: Introduction to PAR

Friday 4th March 2016 | 10am - 4pm | Joachim Room

College of St Hild & St Bede | St. Hilds Lane | Durham | DH1 1SZ (#30 on map)

This One Day Training Course, led by Prof. Rachel Pain, Co-Director of the Centre for Social Justice and Community Action and Participatory Research Hub aims to provide an introduction to Participatory Action Research and some of the techniques associated with it. It is aimed at new and established researchers in universities, the voluntary and public sectors, who are interested in expanding their repertoire of research skills and finding new ways to work with sections of the community, particularly those who are often ignored in research and policy. The workshop will also raise awareness of the shortcomings and dangers of the ‘participation’ agenda. Participatory approaches involve research in collaboration with rather than research on people. Key stages of research – from problem definition right through to dissemination of findings - are conducted jointly, and research skills and outcomes are shared, increasing participants’ ability to bring about positive changes on a range of social issues. A toolkit of participatory techniques exists that provides more inclusive and accessible tools for exploring, developing and communicating research. Because Participatory Action Research works on the basis of knowledge co-production, it provides one model for two-way University-public engagement. It is also widely used outside academic settings.

The workshop will cover:

1. The limits of traditional models of research

2. What participatory research is and where it came from

3. When, where and how it might be appropriate to employ participatory approaches and methods

4. Developing and using participatory techniques such as diagramming

5. Critical perspectives on and the limits to ‘participation’, and some of the institutional and political barriers to using these approaches

Teaching and learning methods in the workshop include plenary presentation, group discussion and hands-on practical exercises. By the end of the day participants should feel confident using participatory methods, and understand broader issues around the use and misuse of participatory approaches.

To book your free place, please sign up to our online booking form:

Chemical Youth: understanding the chemical lives of young people through participatory action research methods

Tuesday March 8th 2016, 5.00-6.30pm, Room 142, Elvet Riverside 1, New Elvet, Durham, DH1 3JT

Prof Anita Hardon, University of Amsterdam

* The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception * Everyone welcome, there is no need to book

Abstract: Chemical Youth is a multi-site project, funded by a European Research Council advanced grant, which aims to understand the chemical lives of young people in France, the Netherlands, Indonesia and the Philippines. This comparative ethnography aims to understand what chemical and pharmaceutical substances, legal and illicit, ‘do’ for youth. The underlying premise of Chemical Youth is that drug use makes sense for young people in all sorts of ways as they go about their everyday lives. Rather than a conventional, top-down, prohibitionist stance, which has been seldom shown to work, the project aims at developing and strengthening harm reduction strategies from below. In her talk, Professor Hardon will demonstrate how, through using methodologies adapted to the skills and interests of the young people involved in the project themselves, a much more elaborate understanding of chemical lives can be achieved compared to research conducted in a less participatory way.

About the speaker: Anita Hardon one of the world’s leading medical anthropologists. She has spearheaded the anthropological study of pharmaceuticals, medicines and technologies including the use of vaccinations, new sexual and reproductive technologies and HIV/AIDS medicines in both resource-rich and resource-poor settings. Her work has had a major impact on the field of global health through the development of innovative research frameworks and methodologies. Amongst her key books are Applied Health Research: Anthropology of Health and Health Care (Aksant, 2001), and The Social Lives of Medicines (with Whyte and van der Geest – CUP, 2002). As well as a technical advisor for the World Health Organization, she was director of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research from 2001-14, recognized by Times Higher Education as the leading social sciences research centre in continental Europe in both 2011 and 2013.

Sponsors: This public lecture is jointly sponsored by Durham University’s Centre for Medical Humanities (, the Anthropology of Health Research Group ( and the Centre for Social Justice and Community Action (

Professor Hardon is a guest of the CMH’s ‘Life of Breath’ project ( Further information about ‘Chemical Youth’ can be found on the project website,

'Developing Policy and Practice Through Participatory Research'

Wednesday 18th May 2016, 9:30am - 1:00pm

Lindisfarne Centre, St Aidan's College, Durham University. Dr Andrew Orton, Durham University

BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL. For those outside the University, please contact to reserve a place.

For any queries about content, please contact:

This workshop is designed for researchers who want to find ways to involve policy-makers and practitioners in research that helps to develop policy and practice. Developing participatory approaches which involve policy-makers and practitioners can be an effective way of both carrying out and improving the impact of research. However, it can also involve negotiating significant methodological, ethical and practical challenges when trying to use such approaches as the basis for developing policy and/or practice. This workshop will draw on the experience of researchers who have negotiated these challenges, providing case studies as examples to stimulate reflection on what can help improve the effectiveness and impact of such approaches, and the barriers it can face, as well as exploring how these might be overcome. It will also provide opportunities to reflect on learning that may improve any projects of this nature that you are considering, planning, designing or carrying out.

This session is designed to complement the session on Participatory Action Research 2, by providing a specific focus on the relationship between participatory research, policy-making and practitioner development processes. Staff are welcome to attend either or both sessions; they will include different content, but neither is a pre-requisite for the other. A basic prior understanding of participatory research approaches may be helpful to those attending this session (e.g. from participants previously attending the session on Participatory Action Research 1), but this is not essential.