What is Participation Now?

Why we started Participation Now, a new resource for exploring development and innovation in public participation initiatives.

By: Dr Nick Mahony (Department of Politics and International Studies) , Dr Hilde Stephansen (Department of Politics and International Studies)

  • Duration 10 mins
  • Updated Friday 12th April 2013
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under Resources
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Take Back Parliament protestors Creative commons image Scotticus_ under CC-BY-NC licence under Creative-Commons license Participation Now is a new project that aims to support the ongoing development and innovation of participatory public engagement initiatives.

At a time when many established public organisations and forums are in crisis and many familiar forms of public belonging are being questioned, the number of problems we collectively face appears to be increasing.

Partly in response to this situation, we are seeing a growth in the number and variety of participatory public engagement initiatives that attempt to address such problems.

We need a way to support active debate about the possibilities and difficulties of these initiatives and an infrastructure that can support ongoing innovation in this area. This is what is driving the development of Participation Now.

As the project develops we’ll be expanding the collection of initiatives and adding further resources to support reflection, debate, research, knowledge sharing, learning and networking. By getting involved you can help us develop this. Whether it's suggesting new initiatives, commenting on existing ones or comparing experiences, as a participant or as a researcher, you will be helping to build a richer understanding for all involved.

Background to the project

The project has emerged out of research undertaken at the Open University that explores how publics may be changing and how contemporary participatory public engagement initiatives are working to support and respond to these developments. The project was born out of recognition that the best way of developing thinking and practice in this area is to support practitioners, researchers, students and citizens who are interested or already engaged in these developments. Our approach builds on lessons from action research and citizen science, and takes inspiration from the many experimental initiatives in the Participation Now archive.

Why the Open University?

The Open University has 40-year history of widening participation and opening up access to research, knowledge and expertise. Participation Now seeks to build on this legacy in new ways, by experimenting with digital and other tools to involve researchers, practitioners, students and citizens in the ongoing development of this publicly significant research area.