Participatory Action Research

Participatory, community-based and creative applied research, including photovoice, community-mapping, ethnography, qualitative analysis, and multi-sited practices

This practice-based enquiry explores how photovoice can be adapted to visualise and influence environmental behaviour in a multi-sited context. While photography can be effective in influencing environmental behaviour change, mainstream images tend to lack engaging narratives due to being predominantly generic and technology focussed.


Participatory photography methods such as photovoice offer alternatives through engaging communities directly to generate site-responsive photographs and stories. However, this exclusively local focus can neglect broader opportunities for empathy and cross-cultural engagement. I respond by integrating multi-sited dimensions into photovoice processes, through a design-based participatory action research approach that explores three interrelated research orientations – adapt, visualise, and influence – corresponding to the creation, analysis and audience engagement with photo-stories respectively.


I first develop novel multi-sited photovoice design and implementation methods across different scales through adapting participatory workshop processes with youth in urban sites across Bangladesh, China and Australia. I then analyse the visualisations of environmental behaviour depicted in the resulting photo-stories, affirming these methods’ efficacy and inviting expanded considerations of agency and subjectivity in environmental behaviour. Finally, I explore the influence of the photo-stories themselves on environmental behaviour through designing unique participatory audience engagement processes within exhibition, interview and collaborative formats. I employ a mixed-methods approach encompassing qualitative content analysis and actor network theory across these three research orientations to affirm the importance of materiality, relationality and empathy to participation and visualisation of environmental behaviour.


This enquiry establishes an original open photovoice method encompassing these combined novel creation and audience engagement practices. This affirms the importance of bringing global perspectives to local photovoice practices, contributing to research in visual research methods. These learnings have the potential to significantly improve the effectiveness of multi-sited participatory action research and environmental behaviour change programs.

Portraits of Change

An exhibition of work by Monash Art, Design and Architecture PhD candidate Michael Chew, February 2020.


The Portraits of Change exhibition connected young people from Australia, Bangladesh and China through positive-themed photographic storytelling around climate change and environmental issues.


Discover powerful and moving photo-stories and videos created by youth participants across the three countries who are taking inspiring local action in the face of environmental impacts.

Contribute your own message in response, or a photo-story showing environmental action in your own life or community.