Author: Emily Johnson

Duke to host forum for public policy leaders on February 17th

*February 16th Update: Event Registration is closed. A YouTube Live Stream on our APPAM forum can be found here. 

Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and the Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM) are hosting an Institutional Member forum on Friday, February 17, 2017 which will explore how research being conducted in universities is informing policy. Discussion will include the role of practitioners in making policy, researcher/policymaker partnerships, and some strategies to bridge the gap between policy and practice.

This event, held at the Sanford School, will bring together distinguished academia, practitioners, and policymakers who will share their insights on the successful development of coordinated research and policymaking efforts.

The preliminary agenda for the Feburary 17th event is below. *Registration for the event will be made available in mid-January.


Program Agenda

10:30AM Welcome

10:45 – 11:45AM Session 1

What’s the Problem? Practitioners and Policymakers Set Us (researchers) Straight

  • The panelists will discuss the gap between academic research and policymaking and possible solutions for the future alignment of the two. The moderator and audience will have the opportunity to ask questions.

11:45 – 12:45PM Session 2

Two-Way Research-Policy Street Exemplified

  • The panelists will share examples of and strategies for successful bridging between research-policy/practice. The moderator and audience will have the opportunity to ask questions.

12:45 – 1:30PM LUNCH

  • Box lunches available for guests to take and eat throughout the Sanford Building 1:30 – 2:30PM Session 3

What’s Happening and What’s Coming in the Evidence-Based Policy and Research-Policy Realms – and what can I do?  

  • The panelists will discuss how researchers can pursue evidence-based policy research while maintaining tenure and research agendas.The moderator and audience will have the opportunity to ask questions.

2:30PM Adjournment

Video Highlights How Collaboration is Benefiting Latino English Learners


Developing Consultation and Collaboration Skills (DCCS) is an innovative teacher professional development program that aims to increase language and literacy outcomes for Latino English Learners. In Fall 2016, the program developed a video to showcase their research findings and collaborative partnership with ESL and classroom teachers. The Policy Bridge helped provide funding for this video and worked with Leslie Babinski, Principal Investigator for the DCCS project and Associate Director of Duke’s Center for Child and Family Policy.

When asked about the impact of this video, Babinski shared:

“The DCCS video highlights the three important policy implications from our research: the need for collaboration among teachers, the value of building on students’ cultural wealth in the classroom, and the positive impact of high-impact instructional strategies on English Learners’ academic progress.  We are thrilled to be able to share this video with a wide range of stakeholders – from researchers, to principals, to teachers, to parents – to disseminate what we’ve learned from our research.”

The Policy Bridge offers small grant funding for projects that engage the connection between research and policy. You can find more information about the funding criteria here.

Policy Caucus Facilitates Important Policy Engagement Conversation


The Policy Bridge convened the first Duke University Policy Caucus meeting on November 11, 2016. The motivation for the Policy Caucus stems from an increasing interest in engaged scholarship among faculty and researchers as well as increase in commitment by policy officials to use research in their decisionmaking.

The Caucus intends to develop goals and a plan of work over the next several months, with a focus on strengthening the university’s policy engagement strategies at the local, state, federal, and international levels. Participants at this first meeting discussed how policy engagement is a dynamic process that requires effective communication, relationship building, and an ongoing, two-way dialogue between individuals and organizations representing the research and policy realms. Also highlighted was the importance of including policy engagement as a component of students’ educational and professional pursuits.

Upcoming administration changes at the federal level and elsewhere in government highlight the critical importance to Duke – and universities broadly – of evaluating approaches to policy engagement and determining the optimal strategies for interacting with, learning from and informing policy and practice. Looking ahead, the Policy Caucus will provide opportunities for faculty, researchers, government relation leaders, administrators, and others to assess both opportunities for and challenges to engagement.

Participants discussed the need to further assess and understand policymakers’ demand for research and partnerships with Duke as well as to determine the capacity at Duke for responding to changes in political leadership.

At this first meeting, the Policy Caucus and Policy Bridge benefitted from the insight of of professors, research scientists, administrators, student liaisons, and others representing a range of Duke entities including the Office of the Provost, Public Affairs and Government Relations, the Sanford School, POLIS, the Science and Society Initiative, the Center for International Development, the Regeneration Next Initiative, and Scholars@Duke.

Interested in joining the Policy Caucus? Please contact the Policy Bridge.


Durham Mayor Bill Bell and Dr. Seth Pollak

On October 27th, 2016, a group of child and community advocates from across North Carolina met with researcher Dr. Seth Pollak to discuss his latest research on the brain development of children in poverty. A collaboration between Policy Bridge and the Center for Child and Family Policy, the meeting sparked an exciting dialogue between community leaders and Dr. Pollak about opportunities to further alleviate the impacts of child poverty. Dr. Pollak is the Letters and Science Distinguished Professor of psychology and professor of pediatrics, anthropology, neuroscience, and public affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Much of the conversation centered around ways to best identify and respond to poverty-related trauma that children and families experience in Durham and North Carolina. Dr. Pollak was able to provide examples and best practices from the field, and attendees provided their insight into the ongoing work of state and local community health, education, and service providers.

Nearly one in four children in North Carolina fall under the federal poverty line. These children, through exposure to stress and developmental delays, can experience significant gaps in academic achievement. The issue of child poverty demands creative data-driven solutions and cross-sector partnerships.

Shared dialogue across researchers and practitioners enhances the solutions that are put forward to solve some of society’s most complex issues. Through bridging the current gap that exists between academics and policymakers, collaborations can be mutually beneficial and produce greater outcomes.

Attendees of the meeting included Mayor Bill Bell of Durham, County Commissioner Ellen Reckhow, Dr. Jonathan Kotch, Exchange Family Center board member, and representatives from N.C. Child, N.C. Early Childhood Foundation, and the Durham Police Department.

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