GDR PARCS (Research Group on Participatory Action Research and Citizen Sciences)

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Participatory Action Research: Science for committed citizens

Our society is nowadays facing major crises (climate change, biodiversity loss, economic crises, epidemic…) which would only be solved through a whole implication of citizens. Engaging alongside researchers to reflect together on social questions and imagine solutions is crucial to become part of the decision-making process and this way take action.

In this respect, a new ethic of relations between science and society is emerging and the expression “Participatory science”, as well as the several attributes that can be related to it, takes on its full meaning: it is no longer about extracting observations or knowledge from the citizen, but about co constructing/building together research project that are appropriate and include the citizen in each step, leading to a better understanding of phenomena and to the joint production of solutions, which is crucial to a greater social acceptance.

The tools and methods to conduct such projects exist and have proven to be effective. They are gathered under the name Participatory Action Research, or “RAP”, that could also be called engaged citizen sciences. The term “RAP” seems the most appropriate to name all of the existing approaches, since it includes all variations in the three characteristic dimensions: knowledge production through Research, concrete issue application through Action, and citizen implication through their Participation at each step.

It was in this spirit that the Research Group “Participatory Action Research and Citizen Science" (GDR PARCS) was founded in 2013. It is a network that gathers actors from different backgrounds who want to conduct outstanding research with the RAP’s original approach. By offering tools and methods (through training), guidance for researchers who want to apply them to their work (expert missions) and in-depth reflection on participation, members of the GDR PARCS collectively work towards improving participatory technics and promoting outreach. This will enable better science and society relationship, nowadays often tense, including research results appropriation.