Legal Empowerment Learning Lab

A screenshot of the LE Learning Lab in Zoom, with a map showing where everyone is from across the world
Lab participants join sessions via Zoom from around the world.

In October 2020 we launched the Legal Empowerment Learning Lab (Lab), a groundbreaking workshop dedicated to advancing research and learning on legal empowerment with a focus on participatory methods. The Lab opens up democratic forms of inquiry to explore what works, what matters, and what's needed to achieve transformative justice from the grassroots. The Lab features 30 grassroots practitioners and academics from more than 15 countries who bring deep experience and expertise in community-driven justice. From working in Syrian refugee camps in Iraq, to informal settlements in Argentina, rural villages in Zimbabwe and beyond, participants have come together to learn the nuts and bolts of participatory action research. Together they are engaging in collective inquiry, action, and reflection to address some of the most urgent issues of our time—from climate change to the immigrant and refugee crisis, mass incarceration, and attacks on women and LGBTQI communities.

Each session is co-designed and co-presented with a practitioner and an academic, and covers topics spanning Introduction to Participatory Action Research, and Community-Led Research Design, Participatory Data Collection, Accountability + Ethics, and more. Through the sessions participants are developing their own action-research plans and building a community of practice anchored in legal empowerment and participatory learning.

In the name of legal empowerment, the Lab is committed to sharing our work, including:

  • Distillations of previous sessions
  • Resources related to our work
  • Participants and relevant organizations
  • Invitations to join us for sessions and other events

Participatory Action Research

The Lab is a learning  workshop for grassroots legal empowerment practitioners and academics on participatory research methods. The Lab is dynamic and interactive, with a mix of conceptual sessions, fundamental skill modules, case studies, and small working group sessions. 

Session Spotlight

Ethics in Participatory Action Research cover image

Ethics in Participatory Action Research

Ethical questions are core to—and woven through—the Participatory Action Research process. This session seeks to allow us to appreciate, analyze, criticize and correct how power plays out in our moral principles and commitments during research so that we can review how we work with research participants during Participatory Action Research.

Ethics in PAR (PDF: 5.99 MB)

The Legal Empowerment Learning Lab began in Lenapehoking (New York City), on the traditional land of the Lenape people. The work of the Lab has existed primarily in the virtual space, through online connections that require computer devices, servers, and physical infrastructure. Within the United States, this infrastructure exists on stolen land under the extractive practices of settler colonialism.

As an organization whose members live throughout the world, we recognize and experience the ways that the virtual infrastructure can perpetuate these colonialist practices. We commit to dismantling all ongoing settler-colonial practices and their material implications on our digital worlds.

To learn whose land you are on, visit Native Land.