The Policy Communication Fellows Program seeks to train the next generation of leaders shaping policy in their countries, bridging the gap between research findings and the policy process. While research often has profound policy implications, it must be communicated effectively to a variety of nontechnical audiences to have an impact. The program builds participants’ skills in translating research into action, including:
- Understanding the process by which research informs the policy environment.
- Learning how to communicate research to policy audiences in a way that encourages action.
- Improving participants’ communication skills using a variety of formats and platforms.
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.
PACE administers the Policy Fellows Program in collaboration with partners in two regions. It is open to individuals from lower income countries currently enrolled in academic institutions pursuing doctoral programs in any field of study, with a research focus related to one or more of the following:
- Family planning and/or reproductive health.
- Contraceptive use/behavior.
- Maternal and child health (MCH), specifically family planning/MCH integration.
- Population dynamics.
- 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 program is jointly administered by PACE and the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) for Fellows from countries in Anglophone Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. PACE also administers the program in French in collaboration with the Ouagadougou Partnership Coordination Unit (OPCU), with a focus on Fellows from West Africa. The French program includes instruction from professors from renowned universities in the subregion, representing the Higher Institute of Population Science (ISSP, Burkina Faso); the Institute of Population, Development, and Reproductive Health (IPDSR, Senegal); and the Institute for Training and Research in Population Studies (IFORD, Cameroon).
The program has two components:
Training Institute: An intensive policy and communication workshop using PACE’s Policy Communication Toolkit modules focuses on the role of research in the policy process and techniques for effective communication of research findings to decisionmakers. 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. Participants also interact with local experts active in policy research and communication.
Policy Communication Assignments: Over several months following the institute, Fellows apply the skills learned at the workshop to prepare written assignments and an oral presentation for policy audiences, based on their dissertation research. Throughout the assignments, Fellows receive individual feedback from policy communication experts.
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.