Generating Knowledge

“A new relationship between theory and practice… : instead of applying to practice what had previously been formulated in theory, theoretical approaches are built having as a starting point the systematization of ... practices” ~ Oscar Jara, 2006

We produce and publish knowledge from practice – in multiple formats from videos and case studies to analytical papers, curricula and tools. In this way JASS contributes to improving the efforts of activists, human rights and development institutions and governments to advance human rights, democracy and development.

Founded originally as a learning community, we are dedicated to bridging theory and practice, and bringing together the knowledge of scholars, students, practitioners and activists. We value different types of knowledge from the conceptual and theoretical to the experiential and practical.

The fusion and synergies between different ways of seeing and thinking allows us to uncover invaluable ideas and insights about power, strategy and how change happens. For us, how the knowledge is generated is as important as what is produced. Reflection and documentation go hand in hand with training, organizing and action. You’ll notice that in many JASS publications the quotes and writing of grassroots activists are complemented by factual evidence and insights from leading scholars. We build on participatory processes of action research and systematization carried out in social justice work. In this way, JASS publications and materials are the product of lively collective analysis and thoughtful reflection, steeped in the realities of women’s lives and struggles.

The systematic process of harvesting fresh thinking from the messiness of practice is also called “systematization” defined as a method aimed at improving practice based on a critical reflection and interpretation of lessons learned from that practice (see Knowledge Sharing Toolkit). Originating in Latin America, some of JASS’ founders helped develop and refine the process.

JASS’ materials are well-known and used around the world by universities, development and human rights NGOs as well as activists. Recognized for our insights and frameworks about power, citizen-centered advocacy and participation, this thinking has been refined through our multiple collaborations with the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Sussex. Materials include: our Making Change Happen series of influential analysis and cases; ground-breaking research by JASS Mesoamerica and allies on violence against women human rights defenders and our how-to tools for feminist movement-building, popular education and empowerment, drawn from JASS’ widely used action guide, A New Weave of Power, People and Politics (Veneklasen & Miller 2002; republished in 2007).