Summer School Content
Summer School Content
The course welcomes people who have different levels of experience in participatory processes and community work or who hope to conduct and apply community-based research (CBR) and organization in their work. Camp members are based across different countries in Europe and beyond. We use tailormade methodologies to develop participants’ knowledge of, and skills in, participatory research methods and expand their capacity for collaborative action research.
In the words of a participant:
"The Action Research Summer Camp is about developing a critical consciousness through powerful self-directed praxis and construction of community for collective action planning. The Camp relies on (1) journaling, (2) facilitated discussion in the most authentic Freirean approach I have ever experienced, (3) team building and mutual support, (4) cultural encounters and (5) shared community (chores, meals etc.). The experience provides opportunities to learn by doing via walks and movement."
Read more about how other participants experienced this unique Summer School in the "What Participants Have to Say" section below.
Dr. Dolgon is Professor of Sociology at Stonehill College near Boston, MA, USA, a labor activist and a singer-songwriter. He has a long history of teaching and training students in applied and collaborative research methods. He has written widely on various forms of public sociology and the politics of engaged research and teaching. Dr. Dolgon’s CV lists numerous institutions in the United States, Ireland, Austria, Australia and elsewhere that have sought his expertise in course design, methods workshops and training, as well as various aspects of public research and the integration of theory and practice. Dr. Dolgon is Past President of the Society for the Study of Social Problems and the Association for Humanist Sociology.
Dr. Raithelhuber is Professor for Social Intervention and Transformation at Bertha von Suttner Private University in Austria where he teaches in the Social Work study program. He has conducted research on people living in marginalized conditions. In particular, he studied social practices of “transnational begging” and related policies, as well as a youth mentoring project for unaccompanied minor refugees. Dr. Raithelhuber has lived in Germany, Italy, Mexico and Austria. As a transnational activist, he has more than ten years’ experience in human rights work with indigenous communities. Training early-stage researchers and allowing students to gain international and practical experience are among his primary concerns.
Social partner and local co-host
The Action Research Summer Camp week is held at the Waldhüttl project, an inclusive community center located in Innsbruck, Tyrol. This grassroots initiative warmly embraces individuals from diverse backgrounds and extends its support to those seeking shelter, irrespective of their origin, ethnicity, nationality, or religion. By participating in the Camp, we not only contribute to the project but also provide compensation for their invaluable contributions in terms of time, effort, and provision of space. This mutually beneficial arrangement helps sustain and nurture the project while enabling us to engage in meaningful activities.
Partners from the Higher Education and Research Sector
Starting in 2024, the Suttneruni will run the course together with European partners. The consortium includes the University of Gdansk (Poland), the University College Cork (Ireland), the University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf and the DHBW Villingen-Schwenningen (both Germany), and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
A motivating, self-organized, therapeutical, inspirational one-week summer school about Participatory Action Research!
Social worker and PhD student
Lovely experience! Listening to someone else’s research while interacting with children and a community that constantly reminds you of why you are doing this—and being around permaculture and spiritual, music-filled spaces was the most ‘wholesome’ or integrated experience I've had.
Doctoral student in political science
The Action Research Summer Camp / school is an intense week of exchange between more experienced researchers that are really committed to society and strive for transformation. It is a week of reflection, becoming more aware of what you stand for and what you actually can do.
Social work student
It is a liberating experience. It is a well-designed training course where you learn methods, tools, processes and principles of PAR by using, experiencing and reflecting upon them individually and collectively at any moment of the day, even when you do not expect it.
Post-doc and social anthropologist
It is not just about meeting people you like but more about a collective process that transformed my understanding of politics, instruments, science and struggle.
PhD student in geography and union activist
The time together, the cooking, cleaning, singing, eating, etc. were really important to relationship building (of course), but also to my learning.
Community worker and post-grad student in sociology
Now I have the feeling that it does not have to be an “either/or” between academia and activism. The experience of the Camp showed me that together, it is possible to create new means of doing research and activism as interlinked elements of social change.
PhD student in geography and union activist
I realized, understood and experienced the relevance of relationship building in achieving knowledge production, action and change. PAR—you know it when you feel it!
It was time in an important space—the Waldhüttl—where we were connected to a legacy of resistance, inclusivity and joy, and learned about our common connections to see how we can strengthen our personal and shared work.
PhD student in public sociology
An opportunity to reconnect to activism and civic engagement and learn how I can use my skills and resources as a researcher to be part of change and engage with actors outside my occupation.
Post-grad in political science and former student activist
The residential week in June takes place in an off-campus venue belonging to our social partner, the Waldhüttl project. Waldhüttl—the ranger’s hut—is an ancient farmhouse located up a hill on the outskirts of Innsbruck, in the state of Tyrol, amid the Austrian Alps. The house was a center of Tyrolean resistance to the Nazis during WWII, and now has a small photo exhibition on the key actors who met there. Watch the documentary on the grassroots project here (34min, in German).
From resistance against the Nazis to resistance against racism
Today, Waldhüttl is a sprawling, rustic facility that welcomes people from the economic and social margins: Hungarian- and Rumanian-speaking Roma who slept for years on the streets before becoming part of this project. Here they help create a unique space for living and learning, run by members of a small, progressive local religious congregation. The place and its practices are strongly inspired by the theology and pedagogy of liberation which, in turn, is one core principle for participatory research and community development.
The Waldhüttl grassroots community center regularly welcomes locals and others for leisure, culture or gardening. This habitat is also a stopping point for pilgrims and couch surfers, and even a wedding venue. Offering basic comforts, this welcoming place is frequently used by groups for international camps, confirmation classes or conferences, as well as by student groups. Besides an old barn with an events stage, the premises feature an extended garden, a teepee, a fire pit, a pizza oven and several species of animals. Get to know the Waldhüttl project’s Facebook page and its official website.
We want to build a learning space that is as inclusive as possible. If you have received confirmation of your attendance and have any special needs, please let us know. If you want or need to bring your children with you, we will do our best to make it possible. There may be added childcare costs if we can provide suitable services, or you can find and pay for them privately.
Participants organize their own travel to the venue. The Waldhüttl project is located in Innsbruck in the state of Tyrol. Innsbruck can easily be reached by train or international bus services and also has a regional airport offering a few international connections. The closest major hub is Munich Airport in Germany. The train ride from there to Innsbruck takes approximately 2 hours.
The Waldhüttl is an ancient farmhouse at the edge of the woods with basic services. It is only a 15-minute drive away from the historical center and main rail station of Innsbruck. The barn, the teepee and the garden will serve as our major event spaces. The location of the Waldhüttl, which is located directly above the castle Schloss Mentlberg, is: Waldhuettl Gemeinschaft, Innsbruck Natterer See Weg 6; coordinates: 47.24753679703773, 11.3627409711645. If you come by taxi, make sure that the cab does not take you to Natterer Lake (Natterer See), which is located several kilometers outside of the city up the hill, but instead drops you off at “Natterer See Weg”, the forest road named after the lake.
Course participants can share basic sleeping arrangements in the barn or other spaces in the main house, in the huge teepee near the Farmhouse, or may set up their own tents elsewhere on the grounds. If possible, please bring along your own mats and sleeping bag. Those seeking more comfort will find accommodation in the nearby beautiful center of Innsbruck, down the hill, e.g. in a guesthouse or hotel. In this case, participants must meet additional costs for accommodation. If needed, we can help find a place for you to stay. For more details on the participation fee and payment, please check the details under application in the section “contractual terms”.
More details on smart travelling will be provided after you are accepted on the course, in order to allow for early booking and keep expenses low. Additional information will be communicated during the virtual preparatory meetings.
Information on Immigration, Visas and Health Insurance
If you come from abroad, please make sure in time that you plan your trip in accordance with the laws on entering and staying in Austria. Austria is part of the so-called Schengen area, which covers 26 countries (“Schengen States”) in Europe without border controls between them. If you need to apply for a visa, we can assist you by providing a letter of recommendation or confirmation of your invitation. In this case, please inform the Course Administrator (see above).
We recommend that you find out in good time how to obtain health insurance for the period of travel if you do not have Austrian social security, a European Health Insurance Card or any other insurance that covers related financial risks.
Become a sponsor of the Action Reseach Summer Camp!
We need funds to be able to award travel grants especially for interested people from the "Global South" who otherwise would not be able to participate. If you would like to support this worldwide unique training course in Participatory Action Research, please contact Eberhard Raithelhuber: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Funding Provider 2024
The course in 2024, as a Blended Intensive Programme, will receive Organizational Support funds from the ERASMUS+ mobility scheme of the European Commission.
The “2023 Action Research Summer Camp” was part of a Fulbright Specialist Program (project ID: FSP- P007732) run by Fulbright Austria. In addition, Suttneruni had subsidized the course from its own funds in order to keep the fees low.
In 2022, we are able to offer financial support for participants from the Global South, thanks to three donor organizations:
- Hans Böckler Foundation, the co-determination, research and scholarship funding organization of the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB),
- Bertha von Suttner Stiftung – DFG-VK, the Bertha von Suttner Foundation of the German Peace Society – Union of Conscientious Objectors,
- Stiftung Vielfalt der Kulturen, the Diversity of Cultures Foundation (Germany).
The first run of the Camp in 2021 received financial support through Fulbright Austria and the Paris Lodron University of Salzburg, Department of Educational Science.