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UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education

The UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education grows out of and supports the UNESCO global lead to play "a key role in assisting countries to build knowledge societies".

This UNESCO Chair uniquely has its home in two complementary but distinct institutions. It is co-located at the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) located in New Delhi, India and at the Community Development Programme in the School of Public Administration at the University of Victoria (UVic) in Canada. Dr. Rajesh Tandon, Founding President of PRIA and Dr. Budd L Hall, Professor of Community Development at UVic serve as the first Co-Chairs.

The Chair is unique in two respects; it creates a Co-Chair mechanism in two different institutions; and these two institutions are distinctive: UVic a university of excellence in western Canada and PRIA based in India. It is also unique since a civil society organisation (PRIA) has been named to a UNESCO Chair for the first time.

The UNESCO Chair supports North-South-South and South-South partnerships that build on and enhance the emerging consensus in knowledge democracy. It strengthens recent collaboration between the Higher Education section in UNESCO, the Global University Network for Innovation (GUNI) and the Global Alliance on Community University Engagement (GACER). It co-creates new knowledge through partnerships among universities (academics), communities (civil society) and government (policy-makers) leading to new capacities; new solutions to pressing problems related to sustainability, social and economic disparities, cultural exclusion, mistrust and conflict; awareness among policy makers; enhanced scholarship of engagement; and modified pedagogy of community based research.

Key areas/components

It is expected that over the next four years, the Chair will contribute to:

  • Supportive policies: through government support and research funding
  • Trained professionals: researchers, scholars, students, practitioners
  • Enhanced partnerships: between civil society, universities, North-South-South networks
  • Supportive leadership: from academic councils, university administrations, vice chancellors and civil society leaders.


UNESCO Chair proposed to the Planning Commission Government of India, to organise ten symposiums in different parts of India in collaboration with various Universities/Institutions. The purpose of these symposiums is to generate debates and promote action in new ways of strengthening community engagement by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in India.

The 1st symposium in this series was organised in collaboration with B.P.S. Mahila Vishwavidyalaya, Haryana. This symposium on "Fostering Social Responsibility and Strengthening Community Engagement in Higher Education" was focused on three main objectives: first, to deliberate on meanings of Social Responsibility in Higher Education; second, to share emerging lessons in Community Engagements; third, to identify areas for future collaborations. (For more details go to http://unescochair-cbrsr.org/events/international-symposium-on-fostering-social-responsibility-and-strengthening-community-engagement-in-higher-education/)

The formal India launch of the UNESCO Chair in India and the 2nd symposium on the topic was organised in collaboration with Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), New Delhi. (Full report of the event can be accessed athttp://unescochair-cbrsr.org/pdf/10dec_JMI%20symposium_full%20report_feb%202013%20(1).pdf)

The third symposium on this theme was held in collaboration with Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad. (For more details go to http://unescochair-cbrsr.org/events/symposium-on-community-based-research-and-social-responsibility-in-higher-education/)

The Co-Chairs write a regular blog which can be accessed athttp://unescochair-cbrsr.org/category/blog/


Phase 1: 2012-2016
Phase 2: 2016-2020




  • I am an example of the Kishori Panchayat Programme which gave young girls the desire to do something, a reason to embrace life

    Kishori Panchayat Member
  • PRIA works for educating voters and making them conscious of discharging their duties as responsible citizens

    Dr Sushil Trivedi, IAS (Retd.)
    Former State Election Commissioner
  • PRIA has been able to provide voice to the Dalits and has generated awareness among them to demand their rights

    Vidyanand Vikal, Chairperson
    Commission for Scheduled Castes
    Government of Bihar
  • We learnt multi-stakeholder dialogue as a tool for advocacy from PRIA…it is a wonderful tool for organising people

    Ashok Kadam
  • The partnership between University of Victoria, a Northern university, and PRIA, a Southern institution, enables us to make some real contributions to building capacities in the global South

    Prof. Budd Hall, Co-Chair
    UNESCO Chair for Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education
    University of Victoria, Canada
  • PRIA has helped to build a large movement for citizens to use Panchayati Raj Institutions at the local level, to use their leadership, their voice, to bring about democracy from below

    Dr John Gaventa, Director of Research
    Institute of Development Studies
    Sussex, UK
  • I have thoroughly enjoyed the privilege of being able to enroll myself in the course…this program has opened my eyes to possibilities for my life which were previously unconsidered

    Tripti Vinita Pal, Alumnus
    Appreciation course
  • Participatory Approaches for Social Inclusion course was undoubtedly beneficial for my research work, providing a deep understanding of theoretical aspects and the applied side of participation

    Pallavi Mishra
    PhD Research Scholar
    Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • I am a third party facilitator for three large institutions but I did not know half the things we have discussed in the Third Party Facilitator Training I attended organized by PRIA

    Joint Secretary of Lakshmi, an NGO