The session brought together thirty experts from policy schools, private firms that broker scientific information, adult educators, and social scientists to engage in curriculum development focused on helping researchers more effectively engage in policy fields. While we assumed these researchers know how to explore questions rigorously, we did not assume they know either 1) what questions are relevant to the practice problems or 2) how to work effectively with policy practitioners.
For two days, we worked in small groups and defined critical competencies, built modules, shaped learning objectives, and articulated desired outcomes; we were well supported by the LBJ graduate students. We considered various interactive learning pedagogies, and I was grateful for what I have learned as the Academic Director of the Hubert project. Repeatedly, we confronted the lack of incentives for researchers at top universities to approach their work to consider applied questions. I was grateful for both the support I continue to enjoy at the Humphrey School (and was happy my own Dean, Eric Schwartz, was in attendance) and my own partnership with the Minnesota Department of Human Services in the Results Initiative that continuously deepens my appreciation for what it actually takes to develop and sustain authentic university-policy partnerships.
In the end, we left the detailed outlines of about six modules, and commitments to develop a few more. People were grateful for the opportunity to draw upon diverse experiences to develop a concrete response to this important challenge in modern policy making. It was inspiring and I was happy to offer my own facilitation talents and knowledge of policy field analysis to move us towards some concrete results.