The purpose of this symposium is to identify and clarify the way in which people working in the field of person-environment studies define, plan and implement participatory processes, and/or the way in which they study them. We wish to enable us to share in our experiences, our dilemmas, our difficulties and our successes. The topic of public participation is one that has become very central in many fields – particularly political science, urban and regional planning, environmental planning, community social work and community psychology. Many of us in the person-environment field have been active in this area, both in research and action for many years; others have just begun to be part of this community. As is evident in the papers to be presented in this symposium, the arenas in which people “do” participation vary in the scale of the environment, the type of process involved and the issues at stake. However, the definition of what is a participation process is not a clear one, and there are great variations among researchers and practitioners as to how they define it. While it not necessarily imperative that there be one agreed upon definition, we feel that it is important for us to clarify together what we think are the boundaries of participatory processes. What should be called participation, and what should be called something else. Having a clear definition should enable us to clarify for ourselves what we are working on and to better communicate it to others.