The design of APAP’s Leadership Development Institute was accomplished through a Cooperative Inquiry (CI), which is a primary action inquiry methodology that the Research Center for Leadership in Action at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University (RCLA) has been researching and working with for the past six years.
Cooperative Inquiry (CI) is a participatory research technique in which a group of people use their own experience to generate insights around an issue that is of burning concern to all of them. In this type of inquiry, participants formulate questions, agree upon a course of action, individually and together engage in actions through their work, and then collectively make meaning from the data generated by these actions. This cycle of reflection-action-reflection is repeated several times until the group feels it has successfully addressed its concerns. Facilitators support the group to ensure that its members use the process to its full advantage.
Ultimately, Cooperative Inquiry contributes to creating new knowledge grounded in practice, deepens the participants’ leadership capacity, especially around the question at hand, and strengthens the relationships among the participants and the communities they work within.