THE ART OF LISTENING: making a difference through ‘Enduring Connections’

‘Why and how should you do participatory research?’ and ‘how do you ensure your work is gender sensitive?’”

The Enduring Connections team has benefited from the advice of Alyson Brody, a freelance consultant on climate change, development and gender. Alyson is an anthropologist, with more than 20 years’ experience in the field of gender and social development. She was a former senior manager of BRIDGE, a global gender and development research and information programme based at the Institute of Development Studies. Alyson led collaborative research and knowledge sharing programmes with a focus on the effective integration of gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment into critical areas of development that include governance, food security and climate change.

‘Enduring Connections’ brought together project researchers, environmental humanities scholars at Bath Spa University, and Alyson Brody, in order to discuss some of the proposals received from project partners KiriCAN.  The National Trust’s Coast and Marine expert, Phil Dyke, was also present. He has a long-standing interest in engaging local communities on sustainability issues, as well as a personal interest in the challenges facing small island developing states (SIDS).

We sat together in February, 2017, to discuss the ways in which we could help facilitate KiriCAN, a grassroots environmental organisation in Kiribati, to identify and address their community’s own needs. To help ensure best practice, Alyson created this practical resource for research planning and implementation, freely available to download and view by clicking on the link below:

THE ART OF LISTENING: making a difference through ‘Enduring Connections’

Alyson Brody introduces her resource in this way:

“The aim of this document is to inform the Enduring Connections project and ensure it makes a difference to understandings of heritage and climate change and – most importantly – to the people with whom the researchers are working. It sets out some questions that may help guide thinking around the methodological approach, the interpretation of data and the ways in which the people informing your research are represented. It also provides information and ‘food for thought’ around two linked central concerns: ‘why and how should you do participatory research?’ and ‘how do you ensure your work is gender sensitive?’”

From the perspective of the project researchers:

“Rather than shy away from the unfamiliar (to us) focus on development, we decided to enhance our own capacity for conducting ethical and responsive research in a development context. We welcomed the opportunity to bring our own collective disciplinary expertise on heritage, and media and communication to a project which aims to make  positive contribution to the UN’s sustainable development goals in Kiribati. This is largely because our prior collaborative research in Kiribati revealed that the urgency of their contemporary environmental and development issues. We wanted to work with the grassroots environmental organisation, KiriCAN, whilst also ensuring  that we were proceeding with caution, sensitivity, and gender-awareness. By engaging in dialogue with Alyson, as well as with other environmental humanities scholars, we gained confidence in our own approach. We hope that this freely-available resource can be similarly useful to others”. (SPJ)

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