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Participate! – an online course on how to better facilitate events on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction

“Participate!” is a free, interactive, online training module developed by SEI and the Red Cross Climate Centre to support the design of more effective science, policy, and practice events.
Multiple Authors
Participate! Course
This short video provides an overview of the Participate! course. (Video courtesy of Bettina Koelle, RCRCCC)
  • Learning product: Online Course
  • Level: Introductory
  • Time commitment: 18 hours
  • Sector: Multi-sector
  • Language: English
  • Certificate: none


Participate! is an interactive online training module, focusing on the facilitation of participatory meetings such as workshops, conferences and training courses for the climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) communities. It aims to support the design of effective science, policy and practice events.Participants will be equipped with a range of participatory methodologies, relevant to these two fields.

This course consists of five lessons. It offers practical tips and tricks, and presents important points to consider when planning learning processes. It includes guidance on how to set clear learning objectives, and why the design process is important for facilitating and engaging learning. The intention is to help people design more exciting learning journeys.

Go to the online course – Participate!

Institutional background and trainer

The course was devised through the EU Horizon 2020 project, the PLAtform for Climate Change Adaptation and Risk reDuction (PLACARD). The course was originally designed with the goal of enhancing in-person meetings. However, the concepts apply when planning virtual meetings, which have become more commonplace as a means of communication and engagement in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A “facilitation collective” designed the course through co-creation processes that involved a diverse group of stakeholders, including the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, the Stockholm Environment Institute, and The Applied Improvisation Network. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact Margot Curl on: [email protected]

Who would find it useful?

The course is designed for participants who:

  • Wish to design more effective science, policy and practice events, such as workshops, conferences, training courses with a focus on CCA or DRR.
  • Have a connection with DRR and/or CCA.
  • Work in research, policy, or practice, at an operational or management level.

Training Material

The massive online open course (MOOC) consists of five lessons or modules:

Lesson 1: Introduction to interactive engagement

  • Overview: This introductory module lays the groundwork for the course. It provides some foundational building blocks and explains why practitioners and researchers engaging in complex process of DRR and CCA can benefit from engaging with tools and methods of applied improvisation.
  • Learning Objectives:This session describes Applied Improvisation as an important philosophy to approach complex contexts and to promote experiential learning with a diversity of stakeholders. We also share the importance of setting clear learning objectives for interactive processes and how to frame interactive dialogue using applied improvisation in the CCA and DRR context.

Lesson 2: Tools and a​pproaches

  • Overview:Having a wide range of tools will enable you to design an exciting process and find the right tool for the right set of circumstances. Good facilitation has three components: people, content and process. This lesson will provide a foundation for the process side of facilitation (covered in Lesson 3).
  • Learning Objectives:When you have completed this lesson, you will have learned a number of tools that you can use yourselves, and you will learn about why and how to use interactive exercises.

Lesson 3: Facilitation techniques

  • Overview: We will explore what facilitation is. We will see how there are some elements in facilitation that you can prepare for and others that will depend on acting in the moment. This means that each time you facilitate, there will be an element of improvisation, of thinking on your feet.
  • Learning Objectives:When you have completed this lesson, you will have unpacked what facilitation is. We provide a few helpful models. One classifies facilitation as a combination of: people, process and content. You will look at the relevance of briefing, side-coaching and debriefing, you will hear general facilitation tipsand finally you will learn about the importance of and how to create a safe space.

Lesson 4: Session design

  • Overview: This session explores the different aspects that are important for sound session design of interactive processes. The presenters explore a range of important considerations ranging from defining a clear learning objective to defining a sound process that takes the diversity of participants into consideration. Finally we explore the importance of sequencing to achieve a good flow of the session and ultimately sound co-production processes.
  • Learning Objectives:You will gain practical tips and tricksof important points to consider when you are planning a learning process. Good design is key to facilitating an engaging and effective learning process – and this input might inspire you to design more exciting learning journeys.

Lesson 5: Working with the unexpected

  • Overview: Working with the unexpected can be challenging, but at the same time can also harbour opportunities. This module explores how we can prepare for the unexpected to happen and what we can do in response. We also discuss why flexibility and working with the unexpected is an important skill when navigating processes in the DRR and CCA field. This module also provides a closure to the course.
  • Learning Objectives:This lesson shares tips and techniques to work with the unexpected, and ultimately become a more relaxed and engaging facilitator. We will explore the importance of working with the unknown and with a diverse group of stakeholders in a co-creation process.

Go to the online course – Participate!

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