Building knowledge from the practice of local communities.


  • Ceasar McDowell
  • Andrea Nagel
  • Susana M. Williams
  • Claudia Canepa


knowledge management, development, communities, Latin America, local knowledge


This article begins with a theoretical view of why and how knowledge from poor communities and disenfranchised people is not only valid but also, perhaps, unique. The authors propose that there is a particular form of knowledge that resides in communities through their practice and that local knowledge, if tapped into, constitutes an important asset for development. The article discusses the origins of the Critical Moments Reflection methodology developed by MIT?s Center for Reflective Community Practice (CRCP). Using one case from CRCP?s work with the Interaction Institute for Social Change (IISC) in Latin America, the article discusses not only how this methodology has been used to support the identification, generation and valuing of local knowledge but also what challenges it faces. Finally, the article presents some of the challenges and cultural issues that need to be tended to when trying to support the generation of local knowledge in a development context.