a global experiment that aims to strengthen democracy through shared knowledge

Video: Participedia on Vimeo.

Under the direction of Professor Mark Warren, Participedia is demonstrating a novel way to conduct research, and it is deepening our understanding of participatory processes.

Participedia harnesses the power of collaboration to respond to a recent global phenomenon: the rapid development of experiments in new forms of participatory politics and governance around the world.

The goal: Participedia’s research goal is to develop a large article and database that will support evidence-based answers to the question: What kinds of participatory processes work best, for what purposes, and under what conditions?

A simple strategy: crowd-source data on democratic innovations from around the world from contributors like yourself and then aggregate this into an open, public database that continually updates with new contributions.

Practitioners, academics, and students from around the world can join this endeavor, either by contributing content or sharing analysis of the data found on Participedia. All of Participedia’s content and data is and will remain free and publicly accessible.

The project’s potential: Participedia is demonstrating a new and potentially powerful way to conduct social science research. In cataloguing and making available a free, open-source database for scholars and practitioners alike, it offers resources to those involved in participatory political processes, and it aims to deepen our knowledge of democratic innovations.

Its purpose: We live in a world in which citizens of most countries are asking for greater involvement in collective decisions. Many governments, non-governmental organizations, and even some corporations are responding by experimenting with ways to increase public participation. Annually across the world, hundreds of thousands of participatory political processes are taking place in response to a wide variety of political and policy problems, often supporting or competing with more traditional forms of politics, like representative democracy. Participedia seeks to understand what is taking place, and what is working.

The team: Participedia was the vision of Professors Mark Warren (UBC Political Science, Merilees Chair for the Study of Democracy), and Archon Fung (Harvard, Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation). Participedia is guided by an executive board, and the project includes a team of 32 co-investigators, 31 partner organizations, 25 core project collaborators, five project staff and a growing number of contributors around the globe. Mark oversees Participedia as the Project Director, Primary Investigator, and Co-Founder. It is primarily funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and has received additional funding from Bertelsmann Foundation, and support from Intellitics Inc.

Currently: a phase of user testing within Participedia’s community of academics and practitioners is underway, and additional user testing will be done with people who have not yet encountered Participedia, to get a well rounded sense of what components of the user experience are working and what needs improvement. This redesign phase is part of Emily Carr University of Art + Design’s role in the Participedia project, as they seek to ensure that a participatory process of collaborative design is in place so that the tool is useful for the community.


All team meeting, Vancouver – June 2016


To find out more about the Participedia Project:


Social Feeds: @Participedia


Full Article Introduction to the Project:  ‘The Participedia Project: An Introduction’, International Public Management Journal, 14: 1-22, by Archon Fung and Mark E. Warren.


Participedia responds to new participatory democracy developments in a low-cost, easy way for hundreds of researchers and practitioners from across the globe to catalogue and compare the performance of participatory political processes.


(Photo Credits: conference photos and brazil photo courtesy of the ‘Participedia’ video;  American pro-immigration rally photo courtesy of Nitish Meena; photos within homepage collage courtesy of Vlad Tchompalo and Mihai Surdu, via unsplash)