Participatory Policy Hub

Relational sense-making for now and future worlds

Institutions forming the hub:

Radboud Universiteit
University of Glasgow
University of Botswana
Makerere university
First Technical University
University of Eswatini
Simon Diedong Dombo University for Integrated Development Studies
Mahatma Gandhi University
Université Catholique de Louvain

Hub Members:

Dr. Juliette Alenda
Dr. Lothar Smith
Prof. Adesola Ajayi
Prof. Daniel Köhn
Dr. Mathew A Varghese
Msc. Stewart Paul
Dr. Sizwe Mabaso
Dr. Oleake Thakadu
Dr. Charles Masembe
Dr. Amos Ochieng
Dr. Miguel Rivera
Dr. Francis Jarawura
Dr. Bernhard Reinsberg

Hub’s interests and Background

We all know and recognize the current limitations of centralised policy-making in relation to communities and diverse contexts. There is a problematic compartmentalisation in governance today, as well as many challenges to effectively combining bottom-up and top-down processes in policy making through evolving power relationships. We all share common views about ethical partnerships and the importance of participation in policy making to give voice to those who are not heard but implicated by these policies. We contend that past failures and shortcomings of national and multilateral governance arise from a lack of up-to-date knowledge of the diverse contexts at each level of policy practice and insufficient methods of stakeholder participation in policy development. Co-creation is an important way forward for reconceived modes of democratic governance that prioritise legitimacy and accountability in the eyes of citizens. But how to do this? This hub would allow us to join forces across contexts and disciplines to work on models and practices of co-creating policies for sustainability, combining different profiles, different fields, different experiences.

Overall, this Hub is important to consider cross-cutting issues and topics, going further than regional issues. It will give us the opportunity to continue having an impact on the communities, for whom we work, but at a different, higher level, considering different stakeholders and different levels of government. To sum up, this hub as an opportunity to learn across geographies about the contextualized processes of developing, institutionalising, implementing and evaluating sound policy, and particularly to reduce the power inequalities that come into play throughout the whole process.

Co-creation practices in research, policy, and development programmes are slowly growing and strongly needed to encourage more inclusive, responsive and transformative governance and policy-making, and to improve the production of useful research for social justice and global development. It is about interrogating Global North practices and processes as engagement in and with the Global South. We must all learn from each other through symmetrical relationships, translated in governance and policy-making frameworks. Such a participatory view of governance and policy-making requires diverse characteristics in order to transform these practices and processes. It is thus important in this perspective, when researchers, decision-makers and practitioners come together, to critically engage with contexts, to redress evidence hierarchies, to take an adaptative approach responsive to context, to respect diversity of knowledge and skills, to commit to transparency, to invest in relationships, and to keep learning.

We work through three interdependent perspectives on what it would take to forge more sustainable human-world relationships:


Extending beyond print literacy to engage with the sign-systems relevant to the context of learning. This could include the land, water, sky, body, materials, faith, among others.


Collaborating with materials, imagination, and each other by being in conversation with ideas, senses, emotions, place, and possible futures.


Geography: Harnessing knowledges and practices directly addressing the earth’s systems and our human patterns and practices that relate to it.

Hub Projects

Worlding Classrooms: working together on local-global issues through a multipolar lens

by Dr. Juliette Alenda

VIS grant from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

Virtual International Cooperation Projects (shortened VIS in Dutch) provide research universities and universities of applied sciences with the opportunity to let their students gain international experience while residing in the Netherlands. A VIS is a collaboration between (a lecturer from) Radboud University with (a lecturer from) one or more international partner universities, which takes place within the existing curriculum. 

In our VIS project, our main goal is to develop a student-centric approach, going beyond the geographical fragmentation of our teaching and our student’s learning. We offer a certain number of themes related to our own different fields and courses, with the overarching theme of sustainability, and students can select the themes they prefer. We then prepare teams combining students from the different partnering universities in several countries (the Netherlands, Uganda, Ghana, Eswatini, India), in order for them to bring different perspectives to the theme they chose. Students have to work together on how, around the world, a particular issue is perceived and problematized by academics and society, and establish relevant approaches to explore it. We ask students to also write a personal reflection on what they’ve learned and how they can further use this knowledge in their education. It is emphatically about co-creation and reflection among students.

Participants from the Hub: Juliette Alenda, Lothar Smith, Sizwe Mabaso, Mathew Varghese, Charles Masembe, Francis Jarawura and Stewart Paul. 

Co-design workshop about individuals sense-making their lived experience. “The Worlds we Live in” Workshop designed by Wendy Ellerman, Kate McEntee, Hannah Korsmeyer and Lisa Grocott. Image courtesy WonderLab, Monash University.

Metaphoric Thinking “What would be the Trojan Horse to get people to care about X…?” designed by Mai Kobori and Lisa Grocott. Image courtesy WonderLab, Monash University.

Surfacing emotions to direct future actions. Climate Crisis Workshop designed by Alli Edwards, Ilya Fridman and Lisa Grocott. Image courtesy WonderLab, Monash University.

Co-design workshop about working together differently. Intrinsic Motivation Workshop designed by Hannah Korsmeyer and Lisa Grocott. Image courtesy WonderLab, Monash University.