Rajesh Tandon, UNESCO Co-Chair on Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education; Founder of the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (1982-present)
A PhD from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA and an electronics engineer (IIT, Kanpur) with a graduation in management (IIM, Calcutta), Dr. Rajesh Tandon is an internationally acclaimed leader and practitioner of participatory research and development. He founded the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), a voluntary organization providing support to grassroots initiatives in South Asia, and continues to be its Chief Functionary.
Participatory Research (PR), the forte of PRIA’s work, is a methodology that values experiential knowledge and practitioner’s wisdom in addition to the more formal knowledge available in academia and books. In order to bridge the divide between the world of practice and the world of research, Dr. Tandon has undertaken a number of initiatives to promote engagement of institutions of higher education with civil society and local communities to foster knowledge generation and mutual learning. This work found further support when he was appointed as UNESCO Co-Chair on Community-Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education for two terms (2012-2016 and 2016-2020).
Dr. Tandon has authored more than 100 articles, a dozen books and numerous training manuals on themes such as democratic governance, civic engagement, civil society, governance and management of NGOs, participatory research and people-centered development. Recent publications include Knowledge and Engagement: Training the Next Generation of Community Based Researchers, University of Victoria (2016), Training the Next Generation of Community Based Researchers: A Guide for Trainers (2016), Institutionalizing Community-University Research Partnerships: A User’s Manual (2015), Community University Research Partnerships: A Global Perspective (2015), Global Governance, Civil Society and Participatory Democracy: A View from Below (2014).
Dr. Tandon is chairperson of the Global Alliance on Community-Engaged Research (GACER) network, which facilitates the sharing of knowledge and information worldwide to further community-based research. He is co-editor of the GUNI Report on “Engagement, Knowledge & Higher Education: Rethinking Social Responsibility” (2013).
The Indian Adult Education Association (IAEA) awarded Dr. Tandon the Nehru Literacy Award in 2016. He has been inducted to the International Adult and Continuing Education (IACE) Hall of Fame (class of 2011). The University of Victoria in Canada awarded Dr Tandon the degree of Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) in June 2008 recognizing his work in the area of civic engagement, governance and community-based research.
In 2013, Dr. Tandon was appointed as a member of the sub-committee constituted by the Planning Commission of India to make recommendations on strengthening community engagement in higher education for the 12th Plan. For his distinguished work on Gender Issues, the Government of India honored Dr. Tandon with the Prestigious Award in Social Justice in March, 2007.
Dr. Tandon has been Chair of the external advisory committee at the Office of Community Based Research at the University of Victoria in Canada (2006); chair of the International Forum on Capacity Building of Southern NGOs (1998-2002); president of the Asian-South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education in New Delhi (1991-2000); and vice president of the International Council for Adult Education in Canada (1986-1994). He also serves on the Boards of nonprofits around the world, and was Advisor to the Commonwealth Foundation, UNDP, and numerous other international agencies. He was selected to the Talloires Network Steering Committee in 2016.