Participatory Governance Initiative


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Participatory Governance Initiative
School of Public Affairs
Watts College of Public Service & Community Solutions
411 N Central Avenue, Suite 400 | Phoenix AZ 85004-0687

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Daniel Schugurensky, director:

The mandate of the Participatory Governance Initiative at Arizona State University is to promote excellence, collaboration, and innovation in participatory governance research and practice. The Participatory Governance Initiative is a university-wide interdisciplinary space that aims at bringing together academics, students, elected and non-elected government officials, community members and practitioners interested in the theory and practice of participatory governance. Special attention is paid to the examination of emerging trends and innovative experiments around the world that are relevant to the realities of governance and public engagement in the 21st century.

The Participatory Governance Initiative is devoted to undertaking teaching, capacity building, research and dissemination activities aimed at the study and promotion of participatory democracy initiatives, particularly at the municipal level of government.



By the people: Participatory democracy, civic engagement, and citizenship education. Editors: Won No, Ashley Brennan and Daniel Schugurensky, 2017.



October 2019

Daniel Schugurensky (Arizona State University) and Won No (Shanghai University of Finance and Economics) from the Participatory Governance Initiative (PGI) have been appointed to the Global Participatory Budgeting Hub (Research Board) and will attend the first board meeting in Mexico City alongside the International Observatory of Participatory Democracy (IOPD) conference

June 2019

Participatory Governance Initiative awarded a grant for the pilot project of inclusive school participatory budgeting

The Participatory Governance Initiative (PGI), in partnership with the Center for for the Future of Arizona (CFA), received a grant from the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (ADDPC) to design, implement and evaluate a pilot project to more expansively and intentionally include students with disabilities in School Participatory Budgeting (SPB). The project will be done in collaboration with Carson Junior High in the school year 2019-2020. The co-PIs of this project are Kristi Tate (CFA) and Daniel Schugurensky (PGI).

Prior research findings indicate that students who engage in civics curricular and extracurricular activities tend to score better than other students in community involvement, political attentiveness, political efficacy, civic duty and other indicators of civic engagement. Research findings also point out that individuals with disabilities have lower levels of civic engagement, and that a combination of encouragement, support, and opportunities to participate can make a difference in political participation. Given this situation, School PB presents a great opportunity to emphasize more inclusive practices of civic engagement for students with disabilities.

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a democratic process of deliberation and decision-making over budget allocations that started in 1989 in Brazil and is currently implemented in over 7,000 cities around the world. School PB is a more recent phenomenon and has been growing internationally and in North America. In Arizona, SPB grew from a single school in 2014 to 19 schools in 2018-2019 (15 schools in Phoenix, 3 schools in Chandler, and one school in Mesa). With ongoing growth underway, this is an appropriate moment to pilot more inclusive practices and meaningful civic learning opportunities and develop more pathways to lifelong civic engagement. SPB educates students about citizen participation, self-governance and democratic engagement. In SPB, students “learn democracy by doing” through a process that builds stronger school communities, improves relationships and amplifies student's voice. Through PB, students are empowered to as act as community problem-solvers and acquire skills and attitudes needed for lifelong active citizenship.

A School PB process is typically organized in five steps: 1) students propose ideas to improve the school community; 2) students transform these ideas into viable proposals by conducting research on cost and feasibility; 3) students present proposals to fellow students; 4) full student body votes for top proposals; and 5) winning projects are funded and implemented. By piloting, evaluating and sharing the lessons of inclusive SPB processes for students with disabilities, this project will generate meaningful impacts for the students directly engaged and for students involved in other school PB processes elsewhere.

April 2019

Liliana Bringas, El Colegio de Sonora graduate student, answers questions about her presentation on the concept of “the right to be forgotten,” as classmates Magda Bernal and Tere Anguamea await their turn. Photo by Jerry Gonzalez/ASU
Sonora students, faculty talk participatory governance with ASU counterparts
On April 29, 2019, faculty and graduate students from El Colegio de Sonora visited ASU, where they met with faculty from ASU’s School of Transborder Studies and the Graduate College and shared some of their public policy research work with students. Both COLSON and ASU students presented academic work during a participatory governance seminar with the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions School of Public Affairs at the Downtown Phoenix campus, as part of the Participatory Governance Initiative directed by ASU Professor Daniel Schugurensky. The overall visit served as an initial conversation to explore potential ideas for future collaborative research in a variety of areas, including NGOs and public policy, populism and migration, citizen science and direct democracy in Sonora related to public consultation and citizen initiatives. “We will continue the conversation on these topics with our COLSON colleagues,” Schugurensky said. “We look forward to strengthening and deepening our collaboration.”

March 2018
The Participatory Governance Initiative (PGI) of Arizona State University is now an official member of the International Observatory of Participatory Democracy (IOPD). The IOPD is a space open to all cities in the world and to all associations, organizations and research centers interested in improving the quality of municipal governance and sharing participatory democracy experiences. Its main working themes are citizen participation, open governments, participatory budgets, initiatives of deliberative and participatory democracy, and relations between citizenship and government in a wide sense. The current presidency of IOPD is held by the city of Montreal (Canada). Previous presidencies have been held by Barcelona (Spain), Quetzaltenango (Guatemala), Lille (France), Buenos Aires (Argentina), San Sebastian-Donostia (Spain), Recife (Brazil), Nanterre (France), La Paz (Bolivia), Reggio Emilia (Italy), Lleida (Spain), Cascais (Portugal), Canoas (Brazil), Madrid (Spain) and Matola (Mozambique). Among other activities, IOPD organizes an annual international conference of cities, academics and experts in citizen participation. The 2018 Conference was held November 25-28 in Barcelona, Spain.