Participatory Futures

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: College of Social Sciences

Abstract

The GCRF Challenge Cluster Participatory Futures directly addresses the challenge of Equitable Access to Sustainable Development as identified by the UKRI GCRF strategy: "Partnerships should be transparent and based on mutual respect... equitable distribution of resources, responsibilities, efforts and benefits... recognising different inputs, different interests and different desired outcomes." As a central component to this challenge area, the proposed cluster looks to the Sustainable Development Goal 17, Partnerships for the Goals, to ensure that innovation and knowledge is shared between countries via strong global partnerships. This goal is gravely underrepresented in development-related research and yet critically underpins and determines the quality, impact and sustainability of outcomes of our research and practice.

This project recognises the need for a critical examination of what we mean by partnership, how these are enacted within development practice, and how we might learn and enable the research community to "partner better." The practices, tensions and experiences relating to the ongoing challenges of partnership working are largely overlooked in reports and papers of interdisciplinary, transboundary projects. Compounding this problem, the evidence of the impacts of "projectitus" (short-termism in planning without concern for the longer-term implications of research or interventions, and "research fatigue" amongst over-burdened communities), the examples of unintended detrimental consequences of well-intentioned research and of abandoned and failed initiatives and the rise of post-development literature as a response to the western dominated nature of development, continues to amass.

Despite the increasing affluence and capacity of the Global North, people in the south still suffer disproportionately from disease, poverty, war, famine and climate change. We have come together in recognition that partnerships and participation represent a fundamental but complex component of all GCRF. We contend that without genuine and equitable partnerships at the foundations of our research, the potential impact, relevance, and sustainability of the research will forever be limited or negated. Partnerships not only determine the very design and implementation of research, but the outcomes. As innovation is a requirement of GCRF and part of wider research and development working, creating and maintaining successful and equitable partnerships is advantageous, leading to new insights and perspectives, engagement with harder to reach countries and populations, leading to new possibilities for sustainable impact.

By moving partnerships to the foreground, the Participatory Futures Challenge Cluster will bring together strands of early successes and recognised failures in GCRF research to address the problem of equity in sustainable development. This project is fuelled by critical insights and analysis of completed and ongoing projects, and ultimately driven by a focus on proposition and solution. Phase 1 of the Cluster will include: (1) an ethnography of cluster projects to analyse partnership practices in terms of equity, participation, and impact; (2) a synthesise of research findings and outputs; (3) the development of a framework and proof of concept case study in accessible forms (written report, documentary, media); and (4) a transition pathway to tools of translation, education, impact, and influence to mainstream international research. These outputs predicate the objectives of a larger project (Phase 2) focused on rolling out this framework through concurrent projects led by different disciplines in multiple distinct regions beyond those reflected in this cluster.

Planned Impact

Co-creating research impact systems to deliver participatory futures: Equitable, empowered, impact-engaged partnerships are a necessity for participatory research. Bringing together the five projects under the Cluster initiative represents a unique co-learning and co-creation experience which firmly places the global south partners as equal drivers of change and future leaders in development-relevant impact. The impact plan is an integral component of the overall research plan designed to build on the assets and focus on the similarities as well as the differences between projects. The plan is devised in the knowledge that meaningful, actionable outcomes need to be achieved within a one-year period but form part of a longer-term four-year strategy.

The Participatory Futures Cluster will act as a hub for the development and delivery of new approaches and platforms for impact of direct relevance to the global south and GCRF through pooling and defragmentation of resources across the partner projects. This will transform the capacity in partnerships for impact across the target areas of sustainable development. The aim is to generate co-creation and impact approaches which are relevant and scalable for the UK and global south Partner Institutes. The impact work package aims to change culture around research impact at all levels, from the local to the transnational, to generate an integrated ecosystem linking all partner regions. Each individual project in the cluster represents an island of practice, as each project already variably engages with a range of stakeholders from government, societal groups and business. However, at present, both experience and innovation are isolated within the projects and the full benefits are not felt by the broader ecosystem. Thus, key components in pathways to impact need to be strengthened locally with best practice and the co-creation of impact experience made open, shared and improved in an iterative fashion.

Our Impact strategy includes each partner project electing an Impact Ambassador. This role will be the contact point for impact related activities within the project and as the link between projects, the RAs, and central Cluster Hub ensuring alignment and integration into the main project aims. It is important to note that the impact activities are the responsibility of all members of a project. The Ambassador is a facilitator of this. The Ambassadors will act as a functional network between the projects and as such are critical to the success of the Cluster and will be supported by the project teams. Planned outputs, including research syntheses, research frameworks, case study, teaching and curriculum materials will be made accessible to wide audiences through the use of documentary, digital, and arts-informed communications, as well as academic publications and presentations.

Each large project that is subsequently rolled out (in phase 2, years 2-4) will require a Regional Impact Development Plan (RIDP) as an integral part of its design. In order to prepare for this, the framework and tools to support the RIDPs will be co-designed with existing Cluster partners and stakeholders inclusively (in Year 1). This preparatory objective will ensure the second phase of the project can be conducted with a clear shared vision, an understanding of how our teams work and an appropriate platform for engaging with the wider ecosystems relevant to each project. These preparatory tools will be immediately accessible and relevant to wider audiences (academic, student, development organisations) and will demonstrate our impact and partnership agenda.

Elements will include: Training and education in co-creation and research impact skills; Development of bespoke resources, tools and expertise base to support partnerships for impact; Support of the transition of the findings/training developed during the project into impact.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Emerging findings of this relate to a greater and in depth understanding of key and determining components of international research collaboration. These include: 1. the role of time in partnership work and the conflicts between the time that ethical partnerships take and the time allowed by project funding cycles; 2. the role of power and the disconnects between participation and decision making in any collaboration due to power differentials across countries and within country teams; 3. the influential role of value systems in the outcomes of research partnerships; 4. the role of institutional systems in supporting or impeding ethical partnerships. With these findings, supported by extensive data from various projects and diverse members across these projects, are currently being used to inform a partnership framework to ensure stronger, more sustainable, and more ethical research partnerships
Exploitation Route The outcomes of this project will be directly applicable to other academics, NGOs and other entering into partnership with these sectors in international contexts. We are currently designing a framework of practice based on our findings and provide evidence and proof of concept to support it.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Other

URL https://www.sustainablefuturesinafrica.com/projects/participatory-futures/
 
Description Our findings are beginning to be taken up across sectors, specifically those that intersect and collaborate with academic research contexts. These include NGO and civil society organisations, government and funding organisations, and cross sector bodies, e.g. the UKDCR.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Education,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Critical Resource for Understanding Impact for Participatory International Research
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
URL https://sustainablefuturesglobal.org/resources/
 
Description Ethical Global Partnerships, Resources and Sustainability: virtual collaboration in an interdisciplinary and intercultural inverted classroom
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact This work will reach approx 60 students annually (beginning 2022) to adjust and expand perspectives and practices on critical geological and natural resources.
 
Description Partnership with Jordan Byekwaso (Makerere University) 
Organisation Makerere University
Country Uganda 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The PI of the research and the contracted post-doctoral researcher partnered with Mr Jordan Byekwaso, Assistant Lecturer at Makerere University in the School of Distance and Lifelong Learning, Department of Adult and Community Education to conduct interviews (ethnography of 5 GCRF funded initiatives) and analyse data. Mr Byekwaso was resourced to deliver the required work and participated in workshops and trainings offered by the project.
Collaborator Contribution Mr Byekwaso conducted interviews in Uganda with local policymakers and stakeholders involved in previous projects of the Sustainable Futures Global Network (https://sustainablefuturesglobal.org). He collaborated with Dr Perry and Dr Ferdous on the analysis of the dataset and is involved in the writing of journal articles of the research results.
Impact Multi-disciplinary collaboration: Education & Geography Outcome - Strengthening of the partnership with Lira District local policymakers and stakeholders & better understanding of what counts as impact for this sector.
Start Year 2020
 
Description University of Glasgow based new partnerships (HORN and OOTHZ projects) 
Organisation University of Glasgow
Department College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Through the collective work of the impact ambassadors team, the research team allowed these two GCRF funded initiatives to build impact portfolio, and to gain a better understanding of research impact and its meanings across the geographies and contexts they work within.
Collaborator Contribution The HORN project involved some of their members as research advisors (Prof Joshua Onono, University of Nairobi & Prof Eric Fevre, Institute of Infection and Global Health, UK/Ethiopia) and connected the team with the Project Manager Miss Parmilia Yeshitella who became part of the impact ambassadors team. The OOTHZ project also involved one of their members as research advisor (Dr Blandina Mmbaga, Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute, Tanzania). Dr Jennika Virhia, post-doctoral researcher for the project also became part of the impact ambassadors team.
Impact Critical Resource for Understanding Impact (https://sustainablefuturesglobal.org/resources/) Webinar - Research Impact: Making sense of the concept across different contexts (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGHmdb4bTqU) Multidisciplinary collaboration: One Heath, Education, Geography
Start Year 2020
 
Description University of Glasgow based new partnerships (HORN and OOTHZ projects) 
Organisation University of Glasgow
Department Mental Health and Wellbeing Glasgow
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Through the collective work of the impact ambassadors team, the research team allowed these two GCRF funded initiatives to build impact portfolio, and to gain a better understanding of research impact and its meanings across the geographies and contexts they work within.
Collaborator Contribution The HORN project involved some of their members as research advisors (Prof Joshua Onono, University of Nairobi & Prof Eric Fevre, Institute of Infection and Global Health, UK/Ethiopia) and connected the team with the Project Manager Miss Parmilia Yeshitella who became part of the impact ambassadors team. The OOTHZ project also involved one of their members as research advisor (Dr Blandina Mmbaga, Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute, Tanzania). Dr Jennika Virhia, post-doctoral researcher for the project also became part of the impact ambassadors team.
Impact Critical Resource for Understanding Impact (https://sustainablefuturesglobal.org/resources/) Webinar - Research Impact: Making sense of the concept across different contexts (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGHmdb4bTqU) Multidisciplinary collaboration: One Heath, Education, Geography
Start Year 2020
 
Description Public Webinar on Research Impact 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact On April 22nd 2021, the team of Impact Ambassadors of the research project hosted a Webinar session during the 4th Annual Symposium of the Sustainable Futures Global Network which was an hybrid event.

Details of the Webinar:
Research Impact is a crucial component of any international development related project - but what does this buzzword mean in different contexts, scales and geographies? What are the boundaries of research impact? What counts as impact and for whom?
Within the Participatory Futures project team, an impact ambassadors team has been created to explore these questions and reflect on the five GCRF funded projects. In a panel discussion, they shared their perspectives on, and experience of research impact and its multiple meanings across contexts.

Chair: Prof Nicol Keith, Director of Research Impact, Institute of Cancer Sciences, University of Glasgow
Co-Chair: Dr Mia Perry, Senior Lecturer, School of Education, University of Glasgow & SFA Co-Director

Panellists:
- Parmilia Yeshitella, International Livestock Research Institute, Ethiopia
- Joseph Watuleke, Makerere University, Uganda
- Dr Raihana Ferdous, School of Education, University of Glasgow, UK
- Dr Zoe Strachan, School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow, UK
- Dr Jennika Virhia, Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, UK

51 attendees from various sectors (academia, third sector, policymakers). The audience, by the questions and comments raised during the event, encouraged the team to co-write the Critical Resource for Understanding Impact. Attendees also reported to have expanded their vision and understanding of research impact, thanks to this comprehensive discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGHmdb4bTqU