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Training Researchers to Improve Policy

A policy-engagement workshop to be led by representatives of the Scholars Strategy Network, open to faculty, graduate students, and postdocs campuswide.

Friday, May 18, 2018

8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Student Community Center (Multipurpose Room)

‘Research to Improve Policy and Strengthen Democracy’


The Scholars Strategy Network seeks to improve public policy and strengthen democracy by connecting scholars and their research to policymakers, citizens associations, and the media.

This exciting interdisciplinary workshop offers faculty, graduate students, and postdocs from local Northern California universities the opportunity to develop the skills to ensure their research makes an impact beyond the academy. Proposed sessions include "Why Policy," "Relationships and Networks," "Troubleshooting Public Engagement," and "How to Write a Brief." The workshop will conclude with a panel discussion by UC Davis faculty who have experience working with the media and/or policymakers; they will share their best practices for engaging in the process.

Space will be limited. 


View the flyer


8:30 – 9:00 a.m. — Coffee and Registration

9:00 – 10:15 a.m. — Why Policy & When Research is Used/Not Used

This module will cover why policy engagement is important and when research is used and reasons why it might not be used. Time will be devoted to explaining the ways that research is used in the public policy process including instrumental, conceptual, imposed and tactical uses. The module will then explain barriers that may exclude the use of research in the public policy process. Drawing from theories on public engagement from scholars such as Larry Palinkas and Dana Fisher, participants will have the opportunity to discuss ways that they may wish to be publicly engaged as scholars. This module will conclude with explaining the concept of co-creation of research - where practitioners and researchers work together throughout the process, as the most tried-and-true method for increasing the use of research evidence.

10:15 – 10:30 a.m. — Break

10:30 – 11:15 a.m. — Relationships and Networks

Participants will walk through a stakeholder analysis to help identify the players in a particular policy area. Borrowing from Marshall Ganz’s approach to developing relationships, participants will learn that relationships matter and that in any given policy debate, the best partners are often not the most-high profile players. Participants will assess the roles various actors play so they can make informed choices to guide next steps in policy engagement. This activity is a highlight of many workshops, and provides participants with a concrete road map for relationships they can create so that their research will be better inform the policy process.

11:15 – 11:30 a.m. — Update on the Sacramento/Davis Chapter of Scholars Strategy Network

11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. — How to Write a Brief

Participants will be introduced to the importance of policy brief writing and how briefs can be used to engage with the media and promote policy change. This module will give participants the opportunity to review briefs, learn about best practices of brief writing, and brief writing practice. All brief writing practice will be done alongside peers and there will be the opportunity for peer review and feedback.

12:15 – 1:00 p.m. — Lunch

1:00 – 1:30 p.m. — Media: Strategies and Relationships

This module will cover the importance of being strategic in relationships with the media. The module will focus on evaluating the impact that scholars can have on policy issues by leveraging existing or future relationships with the media. Participants will learn about news and other media outlets that can be used in order to promote their research.

1:30 – 1:45 p.m. — Break 

1:45 – 2:45 p.m. — Trouble Shooting Public Engagement: Share and Solve

In a safe and constructive environment, each participant will have the opportunity to identify a challenge that they have either experienced or envision experiencing in regards to public engagement. Working with peers and in a round-robin style, each participant will be given time to share their challenges and receive constructive feedback, advice, and tips on how to overcome their challenges. 

2:45 – 3:00 p.m. — Evaluations and Next Steps

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm — Panel Discussion: Policy Engagement in Practice

UC Davis researchers who have successfully engaged with community partners, the media, state agencies and the California State Legislature will share their experiences and best practices. The session will conclude with Q&A.

Panelists include:

Richard Kravitz, M.D., M.S.P.H., Director of the UC Center Sacramento

Jonathan London, Associate Professor of Community and Regional Development and Director of the Center for Regional Change

Jay Lund, Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of the Center for Watershed Sciences

Marianne Page, Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Poverty Research

Special guest:

Dan Morain, former editorial page editor and political affairs columnist at The Sacramento Bee, now Senior Editor at CALmatters


View the flyer