Emily Carr leads Design & Technology Team for Participedia


By Sue Lavitt

Posted on October 02, 2015 | Updated August 06, 2019, 9:05AM

Emily Carr leads Design & Technology Team for Participedia, an International Research Partnership on Participation and Democracy

Emily Carr University of Art and Design is pleased to report that it is playing an important role in a new global partnership that has been awarded a significant grant to support the work of the Participedia Project. The Participedia Project’s primary goals are to the developing sphere of participatory democratic innovations; why they are developing as they are; their contributions to democracy and good governance; and this knowledge back into practice.

We are in the midst of a transformation of democracy—one possibly as revolutionary as the development of the representative, party-based form of democracy that evolved out of the universal franchise. This transformation involves hundreds of thousands of new channels of citizen involvement in government, often outside the more visible politics of electoral representation, and occurring in most countries of the world.

Emily Carr University of Art and Design researcher—Amber Frid-Jimenez, Canada Research Chair in art and design technology, will lead Participedia’s newly formed Design & Technology Team, including Katherine Gillieson, Associate Professor in Communication Design, Emily Carr student researchers, David Ascher, VP Product at Mozilla Foundation, and other leaders in design and technology. Frid-Jimenez emphasizes the importance of art and design strategies in this interdisciplinary project: “We have a unique opportunity to establish the role of design in cutting edge research through our contributions to the Participedia project.”

The 5-year, $2.5M Partnership Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) was awarded to the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions and the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia. The SSHRC Partnership Grant will support the collaborative work of an extensive community of academic researchers, students, practitioners of democratic innovations, design and technology professionals, and others.

The project partners include eight Canadian universities and seventeen additional universities and non-governmental organizations representing every continent on the globe. (Please see below for a list of the project partners. Full lists of the project’s collaborators and co-investigators can be found here.) More than $1M of the Partnership Grant funds will be split among project partners to support student research and travel that will further the students’ learning, while also advancing Participedia’s mission. For their part, the project partners, have collectively pledged an additional $2M in cash and in-kind contributions to the initiative.

Professor Mark E. Warren, the Harold and Dorrie Merilees Chair for the Study of Democracy in UBC’s Department of Political Science, co-founded Participedia in 2009 together with Professor Archon Fung, Academic Dean and Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship at Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. Warren serves as Participedia’s project director and as principal investigator for the SSHRC Partnership Grant.

Shared online research platforms will make it easy for both experts and non-experts to gather information. The current beta platform at has already facilitated the collection of close to 1,000 entries cataloguing of participatory politics; the that design, implement, or support the cases; and the variety of used to guide democratic innovations.

Warren emphasizes the project’s ambitious goals, noting that “By organizing hundreds of researchers, the Participedia Project will not only anchor and strengthen the emerging field of democratic innovations, but also develop a new model for global collaboration in the social sciences.” Expectations for the Participedia Project’s outcomes include:

  • innovative research platforms to enable extensive, decentralized, co-production of knowledge;
  • a deep and voluminous common pool of knowledge about participatory democratic innovations that will support a new generation of research and practice; and
  • global and diverse communities of research and practice focused on participatory democratic innovations.

Partner organizations include the University of British Columbia, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Simon Fraser University, Harvard University, McGill University, the International Observatory on Participatory Democracy, the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, McMaster University, Nanyang Technological University, the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, Peking University, Pennsylvania State University, Research College / University of Duisburg-Essen, Syracuse University, Tsinghua University, Universidade de Coimbra, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, University of Alberta, University of Bologna, InterPARES Trust, University of Canberra, Université de Montreal, University of Toronto, University of Toronto-Scarborough, University of the Western Cape, University of Westminster, and the World Bank Institute.

The Studio for Extensive Aesthetics at Emily Carr University of Art and Design investigates the roles of art, design and technology in contemporary society. Directed by Amber Frid-Jimenez, the studio focuses on the cultural mechanics and aesthetics of the network and the data produced by it. Transdisciplinary in nature, the studio operates through artistic and computational means to produce artworks and experimental platforms. The studio connects student and faculty researchers with international theorists and practitioners through projects ranging from online platforms and screen-based work to urban-scale installations.