The U.S. Policy Communication Training Program builds on PRB’s 40-year legacy of training researchers to bridge the gap between research findings and the policy development process. While research often has profound practical implications, it must be communicated effectively to a variety of nontechnical audiences to influence policy and programmatic change. The U.S. Policy Communication Training Program prepares researchers to influence policy and practice through effective communication.
Through the U.S. Policy Communication Training Program, participants will:
- Understand the process by which research informs the policy environment.
- Learn various ways to communicate findings to U.S. and international policy audiences.
- Improve their ability to communicate in written and verbal formats.
Core training sessions cover the research to policy gap, communication strategies to link research to policy, writing for policy and nontechnical audiences, and effective content for and delivery of presentations.
This program is made possible by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—National Institutes of Health (NIH) Eunice Kennedy Shriver Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).
Who Should Apply?
The training is open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents (Green Card holders) pursuing doctoral programs at reputable U.S. academic institutions and who are between their 3rd and 5th year of studies.
Applicants may be in any field of study, but their research focus must be related to demography, reproductive health, or population health.
- Demographic topics include population dynamics, distribution, growth, and decline; migration; fertility, nuptiality, and family demography; mortality and morbidity; or the causes and consequences of demographic change.
- Reproductive health studies of interest are limited to behavioral and social science research.
- Population health areas include human health, productivity, and development at the population level. The populations of concern may be U.S. or non-U.S. populations.
The program has two main components:
A week-long workshop in Washington, D.C., in June 2020 focuses on the role of research in the policy process, and on techniques for effective communication of research findings to decisionmakers, media, and nontechnical audiences. During the workshop, participants interact with PRB staff and outside experts active in policy research and communications. Participants will be asked to work with their own research results to identify the policy relevance. Trainees practice distilling policy-relevant messages from their own dissertation or other academic research and communicating this information in nontechnical language. The training will culminate with each participant delivering a 10-minute policy-oriented presentation. The training program organizers will pay participant expenses including: travel to and from Washington, D.C.; hotel; food; and related expenses during the week-long, in-person training period.
During the 2020-2021 academic year, participants will apply the lessons learned at the Washington, D.C., workshop in their preparation of two policy communication materials (for example, policy briefs, blogs, or op-eds) based on their dissertations or related research topics. During the year, participants will receive feedback from PRB staff on their work. Upon completion of the policy communication assignments, participants become eligible to apply for a travel stipend to present at a policy-oriented meeting or conference.
The final deadline for applying is 11:59 PM ET on Feb. 17, 2020. The training program awards will be announced in early April 2020.
Applicants must submit the following to PRB:
- A completed application form.
- An up-to-date resume with a full list of educational and other professional activities.
- Two letters of reference sent directly from the person writing the reference.
To apply, please complete the online application and submit all required information and documents. Letters of reference must be emailed directly to USPolicyTraining@prb.org. Incomplete applications will not be considered. If you have questions or need assistance completing the application, please contact Alfred Hylton-Dei at USPolicyTraining@prb.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’m only in my first or second year of studies in my Ph.D. program. Can I still apply?
Yes. However, please note that during the summer workshop and for the post-workshop program, we ask participants to come with their own set of research findings. Ideally, students would work with their own dissertation data, however, it can also work if they have results from a research study or other side project that they previously worked on or are currently working on. Throughout the training, participants will practice distilling policy-relevant messages from their research and communicating this information in non-technical language. The training will culminate with each participant delivering a 10-minute policy-oriented presentation. In sum, all applicants must have a clear policy-relevant set of findings to work with during the workshop and for the post-workshop assignments.
If you don’t think you are far enough into your proposal or don’t have ownership over another body of work, we encourage you to check back and consider applying for the program in the next year.
I am entering my 6th (or more) year of study in my PhD program. Am I eligible to apply?
If you are still enrolled in your Ph.D. program, you are still eligible to apply to the Policy Fellows program. During the selection process, we tend to give preference to those students who will remain enrolled in their academic programs through at least the following spring/summer. Please be sure to note your anticipated graduation date as requested on the application form.
My dissertation research does not fit within the list of topics you provided, but I am sure that this program will be very beneficial to me. Can I still apply?
We are limited to accepting participants whose official fields of study and research topics pertain to the areas of research listed on the program announcement and main Fellowship web page.
I am a citizen of another country and am not a Green Card holder. Can I still apply?
PRB’s funding for this program is made possible by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—National Institutes of Health (NIH), Eunice Kennedy Shriver Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). As such, we are only able to support students who are U.S. citizens or Green Card holders (permanent residents). PRB does offer a separate Policy Communications Training for international students under our PACE Project, funded through the USAID Office of Population and Reproductive Health. This training support students who are from USAID family planning priority countries.
I am currently enrolled (or about to enroll) in a Master’s program. Am I eligible for this program?
Unfortunately, at this time only students who are enrolled in Ph.D., Dr.PH., or other Doctoral programs are eligible for this Fellowship.
I am a U.S. citizen who has already completed my Ph.D. I am now working as a researcher, and I can see that this program would be very beneficial to me. Can I apply?
The Policy Fellows program is designed for students who are currently pursuing a Ph.D. or other doctoral level degree. If you are not currently enrolled as a student in a Ph.D. or doctoral program, you are not eligible to participate.
To whom should cover letters and recommendation letters be addressed?
The cover letter and recommendation letters can be addressed to the Selection Committee, or Members of the Selection Committee. The Selection Committee is comprised of representatives from PRB.
The Fellowship announcement says that PRB provides travel arrangements and accommodation during the institute. What does this entail?
PRB will arrange and pay for participant to travel to the workshop, which includes flights, hotel accommodations, as well as a travel stipend for additional expenses. During the workshop, participants will stay at a comfortable hotel very near PRB’s office in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
How will I know my application and reference letters have been received?
Applicants will receive an email confirmation once a completed application, including two letters of reference, has been received. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the individuals writing their letters of reference submit by the deadline. Applicants will receive an email from USPolicyTraining@prb.org confirming your application is complete.