Participatory Futures

Participatory Futures was a Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) “Challenge Cluster” project. The GCRF Challenge Cluster Grant programme asked us to identify new challenges through clustering current and previously funded GCRF research whilst also leveraging external expertise to accelerate impact, share knowledge, and build capability and capacity beyond GCRF.

Our project, Participatory Futures, directly addressed the challenge of Equitable Access to Sustainable Development as identified by the UKRI GCRF strategy, and the Sustainable Development Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) as an essential component of this issue. This goal is gravely underrepresented in development-related research and yet critically underpins and determines the impact and sustainability of outcomes. This project sought to re-examine 5 GCRF projects to evaluate the way partnerships have been conceptualised and practiced across diverse research contexts. The Cluster programme provides a unique opportunity to stand back from an individual project to look at practices and processes that are common to a body of work and will allow us to innovate from them.

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 work. 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 and impacts. 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, Participatory Futures brought together strands of early successes and recognised failures in GCRF research to address the problem of equity in sustainable development. This project was fueled by critical insights and analysis of completed and ongoing projects, and ultimately driven by a focus on proposition and solution. This project included: (1) an ethnography of cluster projects to analyse partnership practices in terms of equity, participation, and impact; (2) a synthesis 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.

PI and Co-Is - International Collaborators

PI:        Dr Mia Perry, School of Education, University of Glasgow

Project Manager:

              Vanessa Duclos, School of Education, University of Glasgow

Post-doctoral researcher:

             Raihana Ferdous, School of Education, University of Glasgow


             Jude Robinson, Institute of Health & Wellbeing, University of Glasgow

             Jo Sharp, School of Geography, St Andrew’s University

             Zoe Strachan, School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow

             Neil Burnside, School of Engineering, Strathclyde University

             Deepa Pullanikkatil, Sustainable Futures in Africa; Abundance, Eswatini


             Helen Todd, Art and Global Health Centre, Malawi

             Reagan Kandole, EcoAction, Uganda

             Eric Fevre, Institute of Infection and Global Health UK/Ethiopia

             Blandina Mmbaga, Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute, Tanzania

             Joshua Onono, Public Health, University of Nairobi

             Priscilla Achakpa, Women Environmental Programme, Nigeria

             Elias Lewi, Institute of Geophysics, Space, Science & Astronomy, Addis Ababa

             University, Ethiopia

             Kevin Aanyu, Department of Geology and Petroleum Studies, Makerere

             University, Uganda

             Alasdair Currie, Multiplied by, UK

Advisory Group:

             Nicol Keith, Institute of Cancer Sciences, University of Glasgow

             Dan Haydon, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative   

             Medicine, University of Glasgow

             Brian Barrett, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow

Start and End Date

June 2020 - May 2021

Funder and funding amount



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