Participatory Processes for Policy Change: reflections on the Prajateerpu e-forum
It is not often that a single publication sparks a storm of controversy in any field, particularly one that is essentially the proceedings of a one-week workshop. But that is precisely what happened after members of the Prajateerpu team published and distributed the report of their scenario workshop and citizen jury experiment in Andhra Pradesh, India. The release of that report ignited an international debate over the use of participatory approaches to inform and influence policy from below. Supporters and critics lined up to wage a verbal battle against those who held opposing views. Strong opinions were expressed and questions were raised about citizen engagement in policy processes, about the trustworthiness of participatory `verdicts' and the implications that could be drawn from them, about integrity in the research process, about academic freedom, about the links between research and advocacy, and about ways to increase accountability and transparency in policy making.