The RGS has identified 10 core activities that it expects research groups to undertake:
1. Grant applications
2. Undertake collaborative research
3. Host activities at RGS conference
4. Convene workshops, seminars and conferences
5. Encourage postgrad participation
6. Maintain and update websites
7. Publish books, CD-Roms and journals
8. Distribute newsletters and bulletins
9. Promote undergraduate and postgraduate research activity
10. Nominate colleagues for awards
PYGYRG has historically focused on:
1. Running annual away weekends
2. Sponsoring sessions at the annual RGS-IBG Conference
3. Having dissertation prizes
4. Running training days
5. Maintaining a website
What do we do well and what should we work on next?
At the 2016 RGS-IBG Annual Conference PYGYRG held a ‘Celebration Event’ to mark 10 years as a research group. We reflected on what had been achieved in participatory geographies and what we still needed to work on. We asked participants to add their comments to flip charts on two questions: (1) What is working well in participatory geographies? and (b) What do participatory geographies need to work on? We wanted to share the answers publicly here as we work through them and identify what things to prioritise next. If you have any further views or would like to get involved please join us and let us know.
WHAT IS WORKING WELL IN PARTICIPATORY GEOGRAPHIES?
- Celebrate what has been achieved in 10 years relative to the numbers and resources we had!
- Stocktaking – celebrate what we’ve achieved
- Created, in 10 years, a coherent critique of ‘disengaged’ research
- Visibility of women researchers and them as positive role models for newer researchers
- We have achieved a lot – mainstreamed within geography – price of co-option? but wider neoliberal content
- Participatory approaches have been institutionalised (teaching, funding applications)
- Mutual support network and growing!
- Teaching – involving students
- Support for post-grads (thanks!)
- Well done for getting a central room, central time, at key conference – dare step out of the margins!
- Achieved this in a context in which the rest of the Academy has been moving in another direction
WHAT DO PARTICIPATORY GEOGRAPHIES NEED TO WORK ON?
- Participatory language very disparate – Action, PAR, Co Production = confusion
- Fear by academics of research not being ‘participatory’ or ‘action’ enough
- Make what we do ‘count’ – Communities impact our students via community engagement and find ways to turn agendas towards uni service and community capacity building
- Use our own networks to support students and PhDs; ECRs
- Make inclusive ways
- Public Interest Research Groups non-profits
- Grants for participatory work (small grants)
- Share writing and feedback – Mentorship? Writing weekends? Blog?
- Facebook page? Academia edu email lists
- Also sharing more when things don’t work or go wrong
- What is authentic knowledge?
- Support for community work surrounding university
- Boundary of the university and can we make it porous to the ‘outside world’
- Encouraging teaching in more participatory ways
- Can we influence agendas within academy to change what universities are expected to do, service to community etc – see as ‘core business’
- Building bridges with inclusive disability scholarship in geography (much to share!) – developing methodologies for working with people with mind body difference
- To what extent can we ever know other people’s knowledge?
- (How do we) institutionalise spaces for PR (especially long-time research)
- Share failures – blog more
- PR needs to challenge unequal power structures. How – that’s the question?
- Seek more recognition for long term nature of participatory geographies within academy
- Connect with other aligned groups across research and social science. PG –quite niche?
- More participatory hubs
- After having made participatory methods part of the canon – listening to communities – what kind of methods they want
- Interdisciplinary e.g. Bristol Participatory Action Research Group across the social sciences
- Formal research ethics procedures do not work/ are inappropriate/ un ethic – How to circumvent?
- More space and networks of CARE
- What is authentic knowledge? What is co-production? What is role of researcher and our skills?
- Impacting students – getting them involved
- We could still document the process more in our writing, not just the product. How the processes are born and emerge
- Overcoming anti-uni experiences/ prejudice
- How? Articles? Summary reports? Conversations? Share writing and feedback
- How can we approach a community when they don’t need something?
- How to engage with a community over time
- Space literally outside university
- Working with students and communities impacting on them
- Valuing research in all spaces i.e. domestic spaces, not just overseas
- Has to be a collective process of doing research – more academics, so can rotate
- How to find the right balance between your research aims and community’s priorities
- Be examiners to create acceptance of participatory theses
- Defining the ‘right sort’ of impact = contributing to that conversation, otherwise researchers feeling guilt
- More discussion about negotiations around what knowledge is/ expectations of knowledge production
- Creating spaces physically inside the university and the boundaries of these and ‘the invited space’
- Service leaving – package what we do
If you would be interested in sharing your reflections or experiences, please email Eve at firstname.lastname@example.org to write a guest post for this website. Please click here for previous blog posts.
We are always open to welcoming new members. Don’t forget to spread the word to students who may be interested!