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ARNA Conference, Cartagena, Colombia, June 12-16, 2017

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The Fifth annual Action Research Network of the Americas (ARNA) Conference was held from June 12-16, 2017 in Cartagena, Columbia. This conference celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the First World Symposium on Participatory Action Research (PAR), held in 1977 and led by Professor Orlando Fals Borda and the 20th anniversary of the 4th World Congress of the Association of Action Learning and Action Research (ALARA) and the 8th Meeting of Participatory Action Research. The conference brought together action researchers from academia and the world of practice, from around the world to share the results of their work with participatory approaches to research worldwide, and promote dialogues. The UNESCO Co-Chairs, Dr Budd Hall & Dr Rajesh Tandon participated in the conference deliberations and contributed to the discussions on PAR, in various capacities over the 5- day long conference.

On June 12, 2017, Drs Hall & Tandon participated in a symposium on ‘Challenges of Community Based Research (CBR) & Peace Building’, hosted by University of Los-Andes, Colombia & University of Lincoln, UK. The objectives of the symposium were three fold:

  • To understand the contribution of CBR in addressing social concerns and promoting democratic transformations.
  • To explore the systemic challenges of CBR, share experiences of both addressing these challenges and developing promising practices.
  • To formulate,(based upon promising practices) the basis of a CBR program to promote alternatives to violence and contribute to peace and social justice in Colombia

While Dr Tandon spoke on ‘systemic challenges of Fals Borda and other’s legacies in different contexts and circumstances, Dr Hall deliberated on ‘international dimensions of CBR & challenges of knowledge democracy. The panel discussion included Dr Marjorie Mayo (Emeritus Professor of Community Development, Goldsmiths, University of London) and Dr Bendek (Senior research fellow, Univeristy of Lincoln), who spoke on ‘exploring collective impacts’. Further, Dr Espejo (President, World Organization for Systems and Cybernetics) spoke on ‘value of systemic concepts in co-production of knowledge’. Discussions at the symposium centered around how ‘global pursuit of knowledge economy & intellectual property rights exploit indigenous knowledge’.

Further, in another session, Dr Hall, Dr Tandon & Dr Marina Apgar facilitated a conversation on ‘Exploring the role of knowledge facilitators – in building transformative research practice’. The UNESCO Co-chairs also spoke about the forthcoming UNESCO Chair initiative, Knowledge for Change (K4C), aimed at building capacities in Community Based Research (CBR). Prof Marjorie Mayo also joined the conversations.

Going forward, on June 15, 2017, extensive discussions took place on the ‘importance of PAR, in the production of knowledge for social transformation’. Dr Rajesh Tandon and Dr Nina Wallerstein reflected on the journey of PAR over the last 40 years, and the related disciplinary convergences in space and time. Prof Normando Suares, who edited selected works of Prof Orlando Fals Borda, also made a presentation. The day also witnessed a musical presentation in the form of the song of hope, written by Professor Orlando Fals Borda and sung by Elsie, an activist artist. representative of Caribbean Pacific leadership in PAR in Colombia! The students too, took part in presentations and collective activities, and also posed for a number of wonderful pictures!

Finally, on June 16, 2017, the last day of the conference, ARNA 2017 hosted the First Global Assembly for Knowledge Democracy! The assembly witnessed participation from academics from around the world, including Professor Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Prof Normando Suares, Dr Mariela Garcia, Dr Mourik Bueno de Mesquita, and Prof Felix Cadena, the great popular Mexican educator, among many others. Introductions at the assembly was done by Drs Hall & Tandon, followed by an address by Prof Santos, who deliberated on the present scenario, the challenges, and hopes of the future for the knowledge democracy movement. The event closed with musical performances, led by the students and a show of solidarity by all the participants alike!

ARNA 2017, with its diverse participations and stimulating conversations, emerged as a wonderful world congress, with global participation. The energy at the conference gave hope and strength to all the participants to further the movement of knowledge democracy with passion and heart, at their respective locations.

Dr Rajesh Tandon’s blog on ARNA 2017 is now available on our website. You can access it here: http://unescochair-cbrsr.org/index.php/2017/06/19/epistemic-justice-knowledge-democracy/
For a detailed account of the Global Assembly on Knowledge Democracy, visit: http://unescochair-cbrsr.org/index.php/2017/06/19/first-global-assembly-for-knowledge-democracy-cartagena-colombia-june-16-2017/
And, for more updates & pictures, follow our Facebook page: Unesco Chair in Community Based Research & Social Responsibility in Higher Education; @UNESCOchairCBR (https://www.facebook.com/UNESCOchairCBR/ ), and Twitter handle: @UNESCOchairCBR (https://twitter.com/UNESCOchairCBR )
Do visit our ‘Gallery’ section for more pictures from various events: http://unescochair-cbrsr.org/index.php/photo-gallery/

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