Roundtable: Catalyzing Research for Social Impact: Emerging Pathways to Strengthen Knowledge Brokering between Academia and Public Decisionmakers
(Impact of Politics on the Policy Process)

Thursday, November 2, 2017: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Addams (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Roundtable Organizers:  Angela M Evans, University of Texas, Austin
Moderators:  Don Kettl, University of Maryland, College Park
Speakers:  Mahmud Farooque1, David Swindell1, Vivian Tseng2 and Jenny Knowles Morrison3, (1)Arizona State University(2)William T. Grant Foundation(3)University of Texas, Austin

Never before has there been stronger support for the promotion of evidence-based research to influence the policymaking process, yet tactics for bridging social science and practitioner communities to achieve this end remain elusive. For academics, structural disincentives (i.e tenure and publication responsibilities) and professional norms (i.e. avoiding perceptions of research bias or inappropriate advocating on policy issues) prevent more proactive efforts to bring research findings to bear on policy decisionmaking. Busy administrators and legislators need timely access to issue experts to provide unbiased evidence to support decisionmaking. Expectations that policymakers will engage in extensive search efforts to wade through dense research write-ups are unreasonable. Yet, pathways to support more accessible, real-time interactions between these two communities are limited. Richer, more consistent, and formalized connectivity between the two communities could be enhanced through the development of more third party knowledge brokering institutions which facilitate education and face-to-face dialogue. Efforts underway in the science-to-action and social innovation sectors highlight emerging methodologies which are transforming evidence-based research into actionable solutions on a previously unmatched scale. Exemplars include: a) training of academics in formal communication and engagement strategies, b) ‘stakeholder discovery’ processes which create methodologies for intensive engagements with policymakers and beneficiaries, and c) knowledge co-production efforts rooted in action learning. This roundtable presents thought leaders from across these sectors to explore: a) how ‘knowledge broker’ institutions support research transmission, b) how dissemination processes have formalized over time, c) specific impacts achieved as a result of such efforts, and d) the potentiality such practices have to build sustainable knowledge transmission processes between social scientists and public decisionmakers. Panelist one will provide a review of the Lean Startup Methodology (LSM), emphasizing how LSM serves as a solid foundation for building Validated Learning/Evidence-Based Entrepreneurship. He will provide exemplars of such transference experiences from the technology sector, as well as speak from his involvement in measuring the impact of LSM on faculty, students, academic spin-offs, and large corporations. Panelist two will discuss the boundary spanning and knowledge-brokering experiences of the Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST) network, which he coordinates, as it tries to build a distributed capacity in the U.S. for real time participatory technology assessment. Panelist three speak from his extensive experience in development and implementation of a number of innovative tools that support the transmission of evidence-based research into the decisionmaking processes at local levels of government. Of note, he will share highlights of a recent survey of local government administrators, exploring if and how they utilize basic tools of policy analysis in their decision-making. Panelist four will highlight the efforts of the William T Grant Foundation to support research-practice partnerships, including a learning community and resource website for partnerships across the country. She will discuss the Foundation’s efforts to encourage engagement between these two communities, as well as assess progress in bridging efforts as a general phenomenon across the philanthropic, educational, and policymaking communities.