- Our Vision
- Skillful Means
- Contact Us
Many realities in modern life do not lend themselves to straightforward explanations or solutions designed by technical experts and theorists alone. More than ever, people need flexible tools to inquire and step into situations characterized by uncertainty and the competing interests and views of multiple stakeholders. They need "skillful means" to engage people in the co-creation of knowledge that is evidence-based and action oriented.
The term "skillful means" is our adaptation of the Buddhist concept of upaya-kaushalya, also known as the craft of compassion. It refers to the art of helping others realize the potential within a situation, and create a shift in understanding and action. It implies a twofold caring structure — careful and caring.
The skillful means of SAS2 Dialogue include tools adapted from the longstanding practice of participatory action research (PAR), especially in the field of international development. To these we have developed and added many new tools and original software inspired by different disciplines such as economics, anthropology, and psychology. The tools and software, more than 50 so far, flexibly apply to a wide range of contexts.
The approach we advance is not just another toolbox or packaged methodology. While the tools help "walk the talk" of PAR philosophy, knowing what tools to use and when, and adapting them to a specific purpose and timeframe is an art based on judgement, creativity, and much practice. Five skillful means help with this work:
Engage people and knowledge from different perspectives and facilitate dialogue across social boundaries, cultural settings, and modes of learning.
Build inquiry and learning on felt needs and ongoing processes, towards meaningful actions and decisions appropriate to peoples' goals and available resources.
Select and combine the forms of inquiry, planning, and participation that help people deal with complexity (the uncertain, the unknown) in a timely fashion.
Adjust inquiry methods and actions to fit the depth of evidence, planning, and participation needed to achieve meaningful results.
Co-create meaning in complex situations by integrating information, analysis (quantitative/qualitative) and theoretical insights into stories and explanations that inspire and persuade.
The SAS2 approach is all about skills in means to support the design and facilitation of collaborative inquiry. It also contributes new insights into PAR theory, building on various perspectives ranging from critical sociology to pragmatism, constructivism, phenomenology and French psychosociology.
Original examples from around the world, of varying lengths and degrees of complexity, are shared on this website so that practitioners can see results and learn how tools were selected and adapted to real-life settings.