Participatory Research and Social Inquiry


NMDS 5288 / CRN 5185

Instructor: Nitin Sawhney (School of Media Studies)

Tuesdays 4:00 - 5:50 pm (offered as on-site and online seminar in alternate semesters)

This course explores participatory approaches to designing and conducting social inquiry using qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods, particularly for media-based research projects. The class focuses on applying such approaches to understanding the role of participatory media, digital narratives, and networked cultures in diverse socio-cultural settings. Students examine case studies, theory and practice, as well as ethical considerations for conducting research in both online and place-based communities.

We review approaches for designing pilot research projects, conducting independent and collaborative inquiry, and handling ethical concerns such as informed consent, privacy, and confidentiality. We examine conventional methods such as participant observation, focus groups, semi-structured interviews, and online surveys. We also explore novel participatory modes of research leveraging digital/social media, narrative, mapping, and audio/video for creative investigation. Finally, we examine ways of organizing, visualizing and analyzing the qualitative or quantitative data collected in the field to make sense of emerging research outcomes.


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