Roundtable Discussion for Rural Development: Focusing on Strategic Approach and Importance of Facilitation

Rural development is an important issue in many developing countries and participatory evaluation is a tool that can help better shape policy. To help enrich the studies of the graduate students at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) a two-day roundtable workshop on rural development was convened in August 2011. The roundtable included presentations from academics and development practitioners on the themes of “Strategic Approaches for Rural Development” and “Facilitation for Rural Development.”

The panel on strategic approaches was held on the first day and the panel on facilitation the second. Each expert presentation was followed by a brief question and discussion time. The afternoon session of each workshop day was allotted for group discussions and presentations on the panel topics. For the group discussions, participants were asked to write some questions, topics, and issues that interested them in response to the presentations on large sticky notes. These papers were posted on the wall and volunteers were asked to help break them down thematically into groups. The groups that emerged were on the basic themes of community capacity and participation, local governance and economic initiatives. Participants who were interested in a certain area were then asked to join that group and contribute to a discussion on the topic, offer potential research questions, flesh out the issue and provide brief answers to some of the questions. The groups used the sticky notes again to capture their ideas and connect and categorize them further. Upon coming to some basic conclusions on direction, theme and questions, groups collaborated to produce a slide presentation. Each group presented their work and facilitated a discussion on the issues they presented.

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