An update on Keough School policy engagement

As we settle into a new academic year, we find ourselves in a transformative time as we work to advance the Keough School’s Global Policy Impact strategy. Building on the recently launched strategic plan, our Global Policy Initiative seeks to apply original, innovative, and timely research to inform new policy debates or reshape existing practices that promote integral human development. Our strategy prioritizes three channels of policy influence: turning research into policy-relevant action; enhancing students’ experiential learning; and cultivating long term strategic partnerships, particularly with the Global South.

As part of our efforts, we want to ensure faculty have the support they need. To that end, our Knowledge Management program, led by Gwendolyn Stansbury, supports faculty to enhance their academic impact, strengthen their online research profiles, and make their research more accessible to non-academic audiences. Our plan is to translate faculty’s policy-relevant research into more broadly available policy outputs that speak to different audiences. To this end, our team is expanding with the arrival of three new policy impact specialists (one at the Keough School and another two through our Pulte Institute for Global Development), whose role is to identify the policy relevance of emerging research, and to work with faculty to help identify key messages, audiences, and channels for communicating findings beyond conventional academic outlets. The policy-relevant outputs will take the form of policy briefs, reports, and case studies, as well as providing training and resources on policy writing, policy engagement, and effective research outreach strategies. 

Notre Dame is also privileged to have an active presence in key hubs and places where policy decision making takes place. We have inaugurated a new “Evidence to Impact” Seminar Series to showcase some of the most promising research at the Keough School, explore and renew partnerships with academic and development organizations, reconnect with alumni, and influence timely policy debates. The inaugural event of this new series will take place at our Washington Office on October 18 and will focus on Nutrition Governance in Bangladesh and Comparative Perspectives. The event coincides with World Food Day, and will feature Pulte visiting Fellow Mushtaque Chowdury, Keough faculty member Santosh Kumar, and Bernard Nahlen and Elizabeth Wood, both from the Eck Institute of Global Health, alongside representatives from from the International Food Policy Research Institute to discuss policy success and pending challenges from comparative experiences on maternal health, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), and nutrition from Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, and India.

Other events in the series include The Road to the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (to be held in November at the Washington Office), the Distributional Consequences of Climate Adaptation (co-sponsored with Notre Dame International in January at Notre Dame’s London Gateway), Democratic Challenges in the Digital Age (in March in Washington, DC), just to mention a few. We want these research-to-policy events to help integrate the superb work we do (across different disciplines and regions) at the Keough School and our institutes. We also want to share our experiences with current students and alumni as well as partners on the ground.

Last, but not least, and building on previous success, we will host the first “Mind the Gap” Policy Impact series in the Spring of 2024. This workshop aims to build the capacity of the Keough School community to systematically translate scholarly research into policy-relevant knowledge. The sessions will be open to faculty, staff, students, and policy practitioners to exchange knowledge, practice, and experiences at Notre Dame and beyond. The workshop modules will focus on topics such as writing policy briefs, media training, and effective project management. We are mindful of the need to take our research to the places where policy translation is most needed. For that reason, during our first year (2024), we will focus our training at Notre Dame, but in subsequent years we will interact with academics and policy partners in global hubs (Washington, London, or Rome) as well as reaching out to our Global South partners in Mexico, Nairobi, or Mumbai. 

The Keough School is uniquely placed to fulfill Notre Dame’s ambition to have a stronger global presence. We have prominent expertise to make substantive contributions to global debates on democracy, climate change, poverty alleviation, human rights, and peacebuilding. The challenge is on us to integrate our experience and expertise and be a genuine force for change in the world through our research, teaching, policy impact, and practice. 

Related Articles: