Welcome to the website of the Participatory Geographies Research Group

PyGyRG is a collective whose members aim to raise the profile and perceived value, and further the understanding and use of participatory approaches, methods, tools and principles within academic geography and beyond.

What do we do well and what should we work on next?

At the 2017 RGS-IBG Annual Conference PYGYRG held a ‘Celebration Event’ to mark 10 years as a research group. We reflected on what had been achieved in participatory geographies and what we still needed to work on. We asked participants to add their comments to flip charts on two questions: (1) What is working well in participatory geographies? and (b) What do participatory geographies need to work on? We wanted to share the answers publicly here as we work through them and identify what things to prioritise next. If you have any further views or would like to get involved please join us and let us know.


  • Celebrate what has been achieved in 10 years relative to the numbers and resources we had!
  • Stocktaking – celebrate what we’ve achieved
  • Created, in 10 years, a coherent critique of ‘disengaged’ research
  • Visibility of women researchers and them as positive role models for newer researchers
  • We have achieved a lot – mainstreamed within geography – price of co-option? but wider neoliberal content
  • Participatory approaches have been institutionalised (teaching, funding applications)
  • Mutual support network and growing!
  • Teaching – involving students
  • Support for post-grads (thanks!)
  • Well done for getting a central room, central time, at key conference – dare step out of the margins!
  • Achieved this in a context in which the rest of the Academy has been moving in another direction


  1. Participatory language very disparate – Action, PAR, Co Production = confusion
  2. Fear by academics of research not being ‘participatory’ or ‘action’ enough
  3. Make what we do ‘count’ – Communities impact our students via community engagement and find ways to turn agendas towards uni service and community capacity building
  4. Use our own networks to support students and PhDs; ECRs
  5. Make inclusive ways
  6. Public Interest Research Groups non-profits
  7. Grants for participatory work (small grants)
  8. Share writing and feedback – Mentorship? Writing weekends? Blog?
  9. Facebook page? Academia edu email lists
  10. Also sharing more when things don’t work or go wrong
  11. What is authentic knowledge?
  12. Support for community work surrounding university
  13. Boundary of the university and can we make it porous to the ‘outside world’
  14. Encouraging teaching in more participatory ways
  15. Can we influence agendas within academy to change what universities are expected to do, service to community etc – see as ‘core business’
  16. Building bridges with inclusive disability scholarship in geography (much to share!) – developing methodologies for working with people with mind body difference
  17. To what extent can we ever know other people’s knowledge?
  18. (How do we) institutionalise spaces for PR (especially long-time research)
  19. Share failures – blog more
  20. PR needs to challenge unequal power structures. How – that’s the question?
  21. Seek more recognition for long term nature of participatory geographies within academy
  22. Connect with other aligned groups across research and social science. PG –quite niche?
  23. More participatory hubs
  24. After having made participatory methods part of the canon – listening to communities – what kind of methods they want
  25. Interdisciplinary e.g. Bristol Participatory Action Research Group across the social sciences
  26. Formal research ethics procedures do not work/ are inappropriate/ un ethic – How to circumvent?
  27. More space and networks of CARE
  28. What is authentic knowledge? What is co-production? What is role of researcher and our skills?
  29. Impacting students – getting them involved
  30. We could still document the process more in our writing, not just the product.  How the processes are born and emerge
  31. Overcoming anti-uni experiences/ prejudice
  32. How? Articles? Summary reports? Conversations? Share writing and feedback
  33. How can we approach a community when they don’t need something?
  34. How to engage with a community over time
  35. Space literally outside university
  36. Working with students and communities impacting on them
  37. Valuing research in all spaces i.e. domestic spaces, not just overseas
  38. Has to be a collective process of doing research – more academics, so can rotate
  39. How to find the right balance between your research aims and community’s priorities
  40. Be examiners to create acceptance of participatory theses
  41. Defining the ‘right sort’ of impact = contributing to that conversation, otherwise researchers feeling guilt
  42. More discussion about negotiations around what knowledge is/ expectations of knowledge production
  43. Creating spaces physically inside the university and the boundaries of these and ‘the invited space’
  44. Service leaving – package what we do

If you would be interested in sharing your reflections or experiences, please email Eve at eveleigh.bm@hotmail.com to write a guest post for this website.  Please click here for previous blog posts.

We are always open to welcoming new members. Don’t forget to spread the word to students who may be interested!


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