Podcast: Systemic Action Research

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In this episode, the Action Research Podcast team has an insightful conversation with Dr. Danny Burns and Dr. Marina Apgar.


Danny and Marina are working on a large-scale system-changing project called Child Labour: Action-Research-Innovation in South and South-Eastern Asia [CLARISSA]. Started in 2016, CLARISSA has a team of more than 150 members. In this episode, they discuss what AR looks like on the ground, and specifically in a large-scale project. What does the creation process look like? How does this huge collaborative team work reflexively in this AR framework?

This conversation starts with a lightning round where they dive into questions such as: what is systemic AR? (5:17) what does collaboration look like in systemic AR? (6:34) what is IDS? what makes IDS a fertile ground for this sort of AR? (7:40) And, what is your greatest critique of AR? (12:20).

In the later segment, they dive deeper to learn more about CLARISSA, which is built on three core values (but not limited to them): 1. child-centred, 2. participation, and 3. being truly integrated (16:55). This is a really big project that involves a lot of stakeholders, participants, and organizations who work collaboratively in variety of different ways (26:57). How does the creation of processes look in this space? To understand this, the team asks questions about how the planning process, facilitation and relationship building looks (36:11).

The Action Research Podcast team wraps up the conversation by raising one of the classic and significant question that we are trying to explore layer by layer in our podcast-Reflexivity! One of the core components of PAR is reflexivity. Find out how Marina and Danny engage reflexively in such a huge collaborative team in CLARISSA (48:00), by tuning in!


Apgar, J. M., Allen, W., Albert, J., Douthwaite, B., Paz Ybarnegaray, R., & Lunda, J. (2017). Getting beneath the surface in program planning, monitoring and evaluation: Learning from use of participatory action research and theory of change in the CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems. Action Research, 15(1), 15–34. https://doi.org/10.1177/1476750316673879

Zimowski, P. F., Perry, D., Bales, D. K., Davis, D. T., Mattar, D. M. Y., Burrows, H., Moore, H., Ochen, V., Christopher, E., Jewell, S., Smiragina-Ingelström, P., Cockayne, D. J., Setter, C., Ariyo, D., Kumar, V., Otiende, S., Trodd, D. Z., McQuade, D. A., Greer, B. T., … Liwanga, R.-C. (2021). Child Labour Special Edition: JOURNAL OF MODERN SLAVERY A multidisciplinary exploration of human trafficking solutions. Publisher: SlaveFree Today. 6(4), 152.

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