Mixing Medicine: Social Transformation Through Global Youth Participatory Action Research

Publication Date


Document Type


Publication Title

2022 American Education Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting

Conference Location

San Diego, CA


Culturally caring pedagogies (Akom, 2009; Duncan-Andrade & Morrell, 2008) function as a critical component of academic inquiry, specifically as an approach that disrupts deficit-oriented approaches to youth development and achievement. Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR), in particular, cultivates spaces in which youth develop a critique of their own oppression in order to “understand how to improve conditions and bring about greater equity” (Akom, 2009, p. 4). As a pedagogy and ceremonial practice of holistic connection, YPAR engages participants’ histories of resistance and resilience, provides pathways for healing historical trauma and illuminates new opportunities to erode structural inequality through modalities of mind, body and spirit.
This paper explores the role of Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR), practiced in partnership with two schools on different continents, as a practice of freedom. It centralizes YPAR as a project that allows youth to “develop critical consciousness and empathy for the struggles of others” in order to examine the mixing of medicine amongst youth participants (youth participants’ praxis of analyzing their lives experiences and collectively developing plans for transformative action). (Tintiangco-Cubales et al, 2014; p. 12). Through participant observations and student interviews, this paper presents findings from this case study as a way to better understand the pedagogical practices necessary to cultivate warrior scholars: “young people, secure in their own identity, competent and confident in all aspects of their cultural world, critical agents for justice, equity and social change, with all the academic qualifications and cultural knowledge they need to go out and change the world” (Milne, 2015, p. 1).
The engagement of critical pedagogies (hooks, 1994; Duncan-Andrade & Morrell, 2008; Milne; 2015) and youth participatory action research frameworks (Akom et al., 2008; Cammarota & Fine, 2010; Fine, 2012; ) within this paper help to name the transformative possibilities that emerge from youth-led global research. That is, a focus on the philosophical underpinnings of youth participatory action research and culturally caring and responsive pedagogies help to identify and name the classroom practices necessary to instigate social change. By helping students and teachers to become critical action researchers, these frameworks provide a new vision for cutting-edge approaches to healing and social transformation.


Secondary Education