Graduate students admitted to the Certificate must complete the following requirements (or have the approval of the Advisory Board for any substitutions):


1) Intro Course: Current Issues in Participatory Research

  • A required one-credit introductory course entitled Current Issues in Participatory Research will be offered each fall semester. This course is taught on a rotating basis by faculty across various departments, so the specific course number will be posted on the website the semester before it is offered.
  • In fall 2021 Current Issues will be taught by Alex Lightfoot (HBEH 690) and Angela Stuesse (ANTH 897) on Wednesdays 5:45-7:00.
  • The primary goal of this course are to make students aware of current debates within participatory research, build their ability 4to converse about approaches and issues, and contribute to the building of a participatory research community on the UNC campus.
  • The second goal is to provide intellectual events for the participatory research community.  Course participants will work with the instructor and community experts to organize events for a “seminar series” for the semester in which they are enrolled. This seminar series will be comprised of intellectual activities (e.g., a speaker series, reading group meetings) for the participatory research community at UNC.

2) Core Course: Decolonizing Methodologies

  • The core course is a three-credit team-taught course offered each spring by two faculty affiliated with the Certificate.  Instructors will rotate from year to year to ensure a diversity of disciplinary contributions to the course and to maintain widespread faculty interest and involvement in the Certificate. Specific course numbers will be posted on the website the semester before it is offered. Preferred enrollment will be given to those students who are currently enrolled in the Certificate and those who have applied for admission.
  • In spring 2022 Decolonizing Methodologies will be taught by Danielle Purifoy (GEOG 804) and Lauren Leve (RELI 890) on Tuesdays 3:30-6:30.Image
  • Decolonizing Methodologies is the core required course for UNC’s Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research. The course uses readings, discussion, and workshop techniques to critically engage political and epistemological questions related to knowledge production, to explore the promise of participatory methodologies, and to introduce the politics, problems, and practice of engaged research. The commitment to democratizing research and the importance of respect for the knowledge, understandings and values of the community are emphasized throughout the course. Different means of ensuring community input into the steps of the research, and of increasing the value of the research for the community will be explored. Students will spend the final portion of the class developing and workshopping their own participatory research projects.


Applications for Decolonizing Methodologies are currently closed for Spring 2022. If you would like to be considered for admission to the seminar in Spring 2023, please complete the application form that will be circulated ahead of spring registration. All applicants will be notified of enrollment shortly after the application deadline. For more details, please email the course instructors.

3)  Elective Course

  • Students are required to take one approved elective course that will provide additional in-depth exposure to participatory research and methods, and is meant to enrich each student’s specific interests in participatory methodologies and theories.
  • The Advisory Board will designate an updated list of courses satisfying the elective requirement. This list is posted under the “Elective Courses” tab of our website. We welcome student and faculty suggestions for courses that may be a good fit for a Certificate elective; such suggestions should include a syllabus and rationale.
  • Faculty teaching participatory research courses will include community experts as speakers in their courses when possible.

4) Practicum in Participatory Methods

  • Students are required to complete a supervised, hands-on experience with participatory research. It is arranged by the student and can take place at any point in the student’s career after they have taken the core course, Decolonizing Methodologies. Developed in conversation with a community organization or collaborator, the research can be associated with an ongoing participatory research project or it can be designed in relation to a field site of the student’s own choosing.
  • The practicum should be arranged as an independent graduate research course with an affiliated faculty member of the GCPR or an approved member of the student’s thesis/dissertation committee. The course number will be that of the independent graduate research course associated with the department of the supervising faculty. For example, if the supervising faculty is in Geography, the course will be GEOG 900: Special Work in Geography.
  • Within the first two weeks of the semester, the student will develop a Practicum Contract with the supervising faculty that outlines the Practicum’s scope of work, methods for working with the community, learning objectives, and anticipated products. Throughout the semester the student will submit regular reports to the faculty supervisor detailing their progress and any dilemmas they are facing in the project.
  • In advance of the first day of final exams for the semester, the student must submit an electronic portfolio to the supervising faculty, with a copy to the GCPR Sakai site. The portfolio must include :
    • Completed Practicum Contract
    • A one-page executive summary of the project goals and outcomes
    • A reflection on the participatory research experience and lessons learned
    • Copies of all products submitted to the community
    • At least 2 statements from community members/collaborators assessing the student’s work
    • Copies of all progress reports
  • The evaluation of the student, made by the supervising faculty, will be based on whether and how well the student completed his/her contract, the statements from the community, the quality of the reports, and the strength of the reflection.

5) Workshops

  • Students are required to participate in at least two workshops on some facet of participatory research. These workshops are offered by centers on campus, e.g., the Carolina Center for Public Service, the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevent in collaboration with NCTRACs, the Stone Center, the American Indian Center, the Institute for the Study of the Americas, and the Odum Institute.  Students are also encouraged to attend workshops offered by other institutions such as Duke University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, UNC-Charlotte, and UNC-Greensboro. An updated list of current workshop opportunities can be found under the Events>Workshops & Talks tab.
  • Students are responsible for documenting their participation in each workshop by completing the Workshop Completion Form, including information about the workshop and a 1-2 paragraph reflection on the workshop’s significance for participatory research. These must be uploaded to the GCPR Sakai site as soon as possible following completion of the workshop.