Participatory Action Research


An international team of 20 young researchers with the guidance of the researcher Filipe Alves, developed their research skills by carrying out participatory action research in their own organisation. Different online meetings, on-site training, mentoring and peer-to-peer learning activities to support the young researchers in their complex task to initiate and deepen the discussions in their organisations around the topic of decolonisation. Through setting up these discussions in various layers of the organisation and mapping the way volunteers, board members and other key stakeholders understand, value and put into practice the key values of International Voluntary Service they started a process of change. This common reflection exercise allowed all involved to revise their ways of working so that they become more inclusive, equititative and environmentally sustainable.


  • November 29th, 2022: online induction meeting
  • January 31st, 2023: online preparation meeting
  • February 12–19, 2023 : on-site training in Brussels “Participatory Action Research skills”
  • February – July 2023: field work
  • July 3-7, 2023: Research lab bringing together the results and drawing conclusions.  

During the Research Lab is was decided to have a second phase of PAR with more focus groups and discussions on key issues identified so far: 

  • Climate colonialism
  • Visa restrictions and unequal access to international volunteering opportunities
  • Resources distribution or how IVS organisations are part of a system where neo-colonial relationships are defining access to resources
  • International Voluntary service and how our language and structures are reflecting certain power structures

“The facilitators were able to keep the group cohesive and they stimulated participation continuously which kept the attention high. I personally felt engaged and involved to all the activities and never felt that the information that was shared would not be useful. I am grateful :)” 

“We went into detail on how to Decolonise IVS and my favourite part was in the Fish Bowl and the Decolonise visit. Both opened my own perspective and would be interesting how we can also implement such a training back into our organisations.” 

“One of my favourite parts was the Open Space which gave us the possibility to really discuss some of the process´s aspects and for me, it was really a great input hearing all the different points and concerns and questions of the others.”