Population Reference Bureau (PRB) and the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) jointly administer the annual Policy Communication Fellows Program in East Africa through the PACE project. In West Africa, PACE debuted its Policy Communication Fellows Program in French in October 2020, in collaboration with the Ouagadougou Partnership Coordination Unit (OPCU).
It is open to individuals from developing countries currently enrolled in academic institutions pursuing doctoral programs and who are between their 3rd and 5th year of studies. Developing-country applicants may be in any field of study, but their research focus must be related to one or more of the following:
- Family planning and/or reproductive health (FP/RH).
- Contraceptive use/behavior.
- Maternal and child health (MCH), specifically family planning/MCH integration.
- Population growth.
- Adolescent reproductive health.
- Poverty, health equity, and connections with reproductive health.
- Gender issues, specifically gender-based violence, early marriage, and male engagement in family planning.
- Population, health, and environment interrelations.
The goals of the Policy Fellows program are to:
- Understand the process by which research informs the policy environment.
- Learn how to communicate research to policy audiences in a way that encourages action.
- Improve participants’ communication skills using a variety of formats and platforms.
The Policy Fellows program, initiated in the 1980s, has close to 400 alumni. Policy Communication Alumni Fellows are highly respected in the field and actively engaged in advocacy work. The program aims to bridge the gap between research findings and the policy development process. While research often has profound policy implications, it must be communicated effectively to a variety of nontechnical audiences in order to have an impact.
The Policy Communication Fellows Program seeks to train the next generation of leaders shaping policy in their countries. Fellows learn, firsthand, local advocacy priorities and policy landscapes and how to tailor their research messages to relevant policy audiences. Fellows are mentored throughout the program on different strategies to effectively communicate their findings to nontechnical audiences. The Policy Fellows program is committed to providing an enriching, cutting-edge experience for participants that reflects the diverse and constantly evolving landscape of policy and communications.
The year-long fellowship program engages participants through a blended learning approach. Fellows are required to attend a weeklong training workshop, complete instructional curricula online, and submit assignments throughout the fellowship.
The program has three components:
Online Coursework: Throughout the year-long fellowship, participants are required to attend short online lectures and complete associated assignments to supplement the in-person training. Fellows are expected to join one orientation webinar prior to the summer institute, as well as attend post-institute online lectures throughout the year.
Summer Institute: Participants attend a week-long policy and communication workshop focused on the role of research in the policy process and techniques for effective communication of research findings to decisionmakers. At the summer institute, participants interact with local experts active in policy research and communication. During the training, participants are asked to work with their own research data to identify the policy relevance of their findings; Fellows learn how to draw implications from those findings and communicate them effectively to policy audiences through a variety of platforms.
The application for the 2020-2021 Policy Fellows program can be accessed here: https://www.afidep.org/2020-2021-prb-policy-communication-fellows-program/