Research & Learning


Why It Matters


The results of research are only as relevant as the voices that inform them. In the Center for Research & Learning, we make an effort to seek out perspectives that are often ignored or marginalized. Research that will drive positive and lasting change must consider the experiences of people from all sides of an issue.

“We don’t think cycles of violence will change unless the human rights of each and every person are respected,” says Jeanne Rikkers, Director for the Center for Research & Learning. “Even if we disagree with them, their experiences must be taken into account, or policies won’t change and the cycle will continue."

What We Do

Equipping human rights leaders with knowledge and tools for action

The Cristosal Center for Research and Learning promotes learning and publishes knowledge on human development and security within a human rights framework. Our goal is to build meaningful solutions by identifying and elevating the voices of actors from a number of vulnerable groups, including prisoners, members of the LGBT community, and Central American asylum-seekers.

We also host intercultural Global School seminars in El Salvador. The Global School creates opportunities for community, religious, student and professional leaders from different cultural backgrounds to engage with one another and learn together how to promote and defend human rights through the lens of Salvadoran experience. 

A Participatory Approach

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Participatory Action Research (PAR) is a democratic and inclusive approach grounded in communities' perspectives. The goal of PAR is to transform social environments through the process and products of research. For Cristosal, it's a key component of strengthening vulnerable groups' abilities to demand and exercise their rights.

Elevating voices that are often marginalized helps researchers reach fuller conclusions and make better recommendations. By working closely with the people involved in an issue, researchers avoid the danger of proposing solutions that don’t make sense to those actually experiencing the problem.

Participatory Action Research is also an active way to defend human rights. It’s a research process that not only yields valuable findings, but also make the population being studied a little less vulnerable. “The most valuable skill for many people is to know how to talk about their own experiences,” says Jeanne. PAR equips people with tools to tell their stories in a way that will be heard by decision-makers. Learn more about Participatory Action Research here.

Our Impact in 2018

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report on returned migrants published in partnership with CMS

interactive Global School seminars hosted in El Salvador  

Global School alumni from North and Central America equipped with the knowledge and tools to defend human rights


Make a difference today


Without you, our work doesn't happen. Your donations support progress toward peace for one of the most violent regions of the world.