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Participatory Action Research is a social research method geared toward understanding the world and trying to change it.  It is a collaborative and applied method for anyone trying to actively change their environment. PAR is a powerful social change tool.


Participatory Action Research combines ‘action’ research – studies conducted in the course of a particular activity to improve the approach of those involved and ‘participatory’ research – a partnership approach that equitably involves community members, service providers and researchers in all aspects of the research process and in which all partners equally contribute expertise and share decision making and ownership.






Systematically reflecting on issues of individual and collective concern that need to be addressed.



Global Health Disrupted Reflection in Action


Global Health Disrupted works with Pamoja Dance Group in Nairobi. They are a mixed ability group of dancers who address a wide range of local social and political issues that have global resonances. Their daring choreography ranges from explorations of the challenges of living in Nairobi for people with disabilities, post election violence in Kenya, men’s oppression of women in Kenyan society, and of increased poaching of Kenya’s elephant population.


As a group they reflect on the issues they face as persons with physical disability. Collectively, they decide how they want to portray themselves through choreography.





Planning what you're going to do, how you're going to do it, and who needs to be involved

Global Health Disrupted Planning in Action


GHD works with Hospital Rooms, a UK based charity that works with artists, patients, staff, and family members to co-create art and transform clinical spaces on mental health wards.


The PAR model fits very well with a co-creation approach. Through PAR we were able to plan how the intervention will be delivered and what was important to the people who are directly impacted by the project.






Action unites, organically with research, and collective processes of self-investigation 


Global Health Disrupted Action in Action


Annie has worked with undocumented Hispanic residents in Colorado’s most rural county to identify and address their unique health concerns. Using the PAR model, residents identified language barriers and access to information as a top priority. As a result, participants actualized social change by creating a Silverton Unidos Facebook page that is now a key a health resource for the Latino community.





Understanding and documenting the change in practice

Global Health Disrupted Observation in Action


In response to community concerns around domestic violence in the Peruvian Amazon, Geordan works with community health volunteers using PAR to empower community members and decrease rates of violence. The community heath volunteers are encouraged to reflect on the impact of their actions using creative means. 




1. reflect: needs assessment

2. plan: designing the intervention

3. action: implementation

4. observation: evaluation




What is a Theory of Change?

A ToC (often used interchangeably with the term logic model) is a specific type of methodology for planning, participation, and evaluation that is used to promote social change


Why is it important?

Theory of Change defines long-term goals and then maps backward to identify necessary preconditions.



Example 1: Theory of change using participatory action research techniques to address gender violence in the Amazon of Peru

Example 2: Theory of change using participatory action research techniques to understand the impact of visual art in mental health units on the wellbeing of patients. 

using a theory of change (toC) to support a par approach

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