Participatory Futures

Issued: Fri, 20 Nov 2020 13:59:00 GMT

Participatory Futures is a new International Development research project led by Dr Mia Perry that forms part of the UKRI GCRF Collective Programme. This funding programme is designed to enhance the overall impact across UKRI’s six strategic GCRF Challenge portfolios in global health, education, sustainable cities, food systems, conflict and resilience. Research across these is contributing to realising the ambitions of the UK Government’s aid strategy and progressing the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Participatory Futures ( is a research project that addresses the challenge of Equitable Access to Sustainable Development as identified by the UKRI GCRF strategy, and Sustainable Development Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) as an essential component of this issue.

SDG 17 is gravely underrepresented in development-related research and yet critically underpins and determines the impact and sustainability of outcomes. This project re-examines 5 GCRF projects to evaluate the way partnerships have been conceptualised and practiced across diverse contexts. This team has come together in recognition that partnerships and participation represent a fundamental but complex component of all GCRF work. Despite the increasing affluence and capacity of the Global North, populations in the Global South still suffer disproportionately from disease, poverty, war, famine and climate change. We contend that partnership practices must be interrogated as a fundamental factor in this context. Partnerships not only determine the very design and implementation of research, but the outcomes and impacts. Without genuine and equitable partnerships at the foundation of our research, the potential impact, relevance, and sustainability of the research will forever be limited or negated.

This project is fueled by critical insights and analysis of completed and ongoing projects, and ultimately driven by a focus on proposition and solution. To this end, Participatory Futures in now in the midst of a digital ethnography of the clustered projects to analyse partnership practices in terms of equity, participation, and impact. Based upon this, the team will develop a framework and proof of concept to support ethical and effective partnership practice, along with tools of translation, education, impact, and influence to mainstream international research.

Dr Mia Perry, Principal Investigator said of the research "As global issues of sustainability become ever more complex and “wicked,” the importance and implications of who we work with and how we work together became a clear priority and distinguishing factor in my work across contexts and disciplines. Participatory Futures looks directly at these fundamental research factors to draw out insights, evidence, and proposals for practice'.

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