University of Vermont


Community Based Research

This course taught by ARLG lab members is an opportunity for hands-on learning about PAR with Vermont community partners. Additional examples of PAR in the community can be found here.

Agroecology and Rural Livelihoods Group

Participatory Action Research

The thread that brings our work together across the areas of agriculture, livelihoods, and environmental conservation in tropical and temperate rural landscapes is the application of Participatory Action Research. Participatory Action Research (PAR) is designed so that both the process and results of research have direct impact on social and ecological issues. It seeks the fair and equitable participation of all relevant stakeholders throughout the process and has the potential to increase the depth and relevance of the research process.  Bacon, et al. (2005) defined PAR as follows: "A cyclical approach that involves a diversity of stakeholders as active participants in an integrated process of research and action (action can represent a social change process, community development, conservation projects, etc.)." As is demonstrated in the table below, the PAR approach compliments the complex, multi-actor issues confronted by agroecologists.

Application of Participatory Action Research
Participatory Action Research Principles Agroecology Principles
PAR foregrounds empowerment as community partners play key roles in defining the research agenda. Agroecologists work with farmers, food consumers, communities, agricultural ministries, food advocates and others to empower people.
PAR processes are context dependent as they bring together interdisciplinary teams responding to stakeholder aspirations. Agroecology establishes farming and food systems that adjust to local environments.
PAR processes deepen as long-term relationships are formed and multiple iterations of this cycle occur. Agroecology develops strategies to maximize long-term benefits.
PAR processes listen to a diversity of voices and knowledge systems to democratize the research and social change processes. Agroecology implies processes to diversity biota, landscapes and social institutions.

Source: Méndez, V.E., C.M. Bacon and R. Cohen (2013). Agroecology as a transdisciplinary, participatory and action-oriented approach. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (formerly Journal of Sustainable Agriculture) 37(1):3-18

PAR in Practice

As part of a desire to bring his research into action, and with the support of a group of Salvadoran researchers, Ernesto Méndez formed Asesoríae Investigación Interdisciplinaria para el Desarrollo Local y la Conservacíon - ASENDIC (Advising and Interdisciplinary Research for Local Development and Conservation). ASINDEC is a local, non-profit foundation with the aims to conduct participatory action research (PAR), as a strategy to support conservation and livelihood improvement efforts of coffee farmers in El Salvador and Central America.  ASINDEC  is sister organization of the Community Agroecology Network (CAN) , a U.S. based, non-profit organization, which has a PAR focus, as well as action-education and trade innovations programs.  CAN is based at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Last modified April 08 2015 09:40 AM

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