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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




  • PRIA facilitators listen, engage and explain at the level where participants understand and learn through many practical exercises. The best workshop on gender that our employees have attended

    Tsering Youdon
    Program Officer, Swedish Organisation for Individual Relief
    SOIR-IM, Dehradun, Uttarakhand
  • Elected members & officials from Northern Province, Sri Lanka visited PRIA to learn about their exemplary work in developing citizen participation in governance and service delivery. JGU thanks PRIA.

    Prof. R. Sudarshan
    Dean, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy
    O.P. Jindal Global University
  • Undeniably good work done by PRIA. My visits to the communities they work with let me hear grassroots voices and stories...deeply rewarding for my personal growth, work and future research

    Loreen Regnander
    Intern, 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
  • Thank you PRIA -- for helping me gain the confidence to speak up. Today, I do not hesitate to speak with the sarpanch.

    Renu Joshi
    ASHA worker
    Hinglaz gali Anganwadi Centre, Siwana Block, Barmer, Rajasthan
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • We learnt multi-stakeholder dialogue as a tool for advocacy from PRIA…it is a wonderful tool for organising people

    Ashok Kadam
  • 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