The Knowledge Democracy Initiative

Knowledge democratization has been a component of the Action Research Network of the Americas (ARNA) since the network’s founding in 2012. ARNA initially included Knowledge Democracy as a part of its focus on Knowledge Mobilization and chose to create a participatory social experiment to initiate direct involvement in knowledge democracy networking. As a part of the 5th Annual ARNA Conference then being planned for Cartagena, Colombia in June 2017, ARNA leaders also began to organize the 1st Global Assembly for Knowledge Democracy (GAKD) as a one-day post-conference gathering. A global GAKD organizing committee was assembled in the winter of 2016. A formal global announcement of the event was posted on ARNA’s website in June 2016 and was shared via email listserv with action research networks, authors, and scholar-activists around the world. The global organizing committee was co-chaired by Lonnie Rowell, ARNA Knowledge Mobilization coordinator, and Christine Edwards-Groves, Australian coordinator and international co-leader of the Pedagogy, Education and Praxis network.

The Global Assembly was held on June 16, 2017 at the Cartagena de Indias Convention Center in Cartagena, Colombia. The event was attended by over 300 people from throughout the Americas and around the world (Seeley, McAteer, Sánchez, & Kenfield, 2019). To date, two publications have examined the Assembly, with one presenting an analysis of what took place in one phase of organizing of the Assembly (Wood, McAteer, & Whitehead, 2019) and a second exploring participants’ experiences of the day itself (Seeley et al., 2019). A third article by one of the Assembly planners provides an important overview of critical questions involving participatory action research and the challenges of knowledge democracy (Stern, 2019). A fourth article (Hong & Rowell, 2019), inspired by ARNA’s orientation towards knowledge mobilization and knowledge democracy, discussed building knowledge democracies in education in the U.S. All four articles were included in a two-part Special Issue on Knowledge Democracy published by the international journal, Educational Action Research.

Since the event, ARNA leadership has continued to reflect on the experience of the 1st Assembly and to discuss next steps. In the spring of 2019, ARNA embarked on a strategic planning process for 2020-2025, with approval of a set of four Strategic Priorities coming in September. Strategic Priority #1 calls for developing a Knowledge Democracy Initiative that incorporates knowledge mobilization of works based on action research and participatory action research and explores democratized knowledge production and dissemination as a basis for inclusive and humanistic public discourse and public policy. This website, knowledgedemocracy.org, which was originally created as a part of the organizing of the Global Assembly, is now the platform for the ARNA Knowledge Democracy Initiative. Knowledgedemocracy.org is dedicated to all those who contributed their ideas in the organizing of the 1st Global Assembly and to the work of all those seeking to challenge knowledge monopoly and contribute to the democratization of knowledge production.

Note: References shown in the statement above are included on the Reference List.