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From Research to Policy for Sustainable Development

From Research to Policy for Sustainable Development, 3 HEC


The two course meetings will take place 31/1-1/2 - 2018 and 21-22/2 - 2018 in Gothenburg. The course is given by the Centre for Environment and Sustainability, GMV, University of Gothenburg and Chalmers.


Abstract: Research and researchers have important roles to play in promoting sustainable development. Researchers can benefit from increased policy engagement and can contribute to improved planning, decision-making and investment by enhancing their research communication. This course aims at enhancing the students’/researchers’ understanding of the science-policy interface, learning about research-policy engagement and improving their research communication skills.

Aim of the course

The aim of this course is to enhance the participants’ understanding of research-policy linkages and to increase their capabilities to communicate their research findings to different stakeholders, in order to create impact for sustainable development.

Intended learning outcome

At the end of the course, the participants will be able to:

• describe universities’ and researchers’ role(s) in policy making processes

• present an overview of the policy landscape, research-policy linkages and different models for policy engagement, including use of social media, with focus on own research field

• perform a stakeholder mapping and analysis

• formulate and present a research-to-policy plan and policy brief/press release

• present scientific results and tentative policy recommendations  aimed at a given target group

Background and motivation


Research and researchers have important roles to play in promoting sustainable development. Researchers can take more or less active roles in outreach work, dissemination of new findings and policy engagement. Their personal motivation, their institutional context, and networks constitute important factors for their outreach work.  However, there is also a growing body of scientific research on the science-policy interface that disentangles factors that facilitate or hamper the uptake of research findings in policy making processes. The traditional view – which mainly focuses on informing about new research findings - is increasingly replaced by models stressing the importance of policy engagement, dialogue and policy interaction to promote evidence-based planning and co-creation of knowledge. Many efforts to communicate research have been shown to be inefficient, not-fit-for-purpose and based on ad-hoc, intuition-driven approaches. Essentially this is a craft, and improving researchers’ incentives and skills to reach out, may benefit the transition towards a more sustainable society.

In addition, research donors increasingly emphasize the importance of research relevance, in addition to excellence, in their calls, and require that researchers adequately describe how the research may benefit society, how they intend to reach out and engage with policy.

Number of seats

about 25 participants


The course combines theoretical discussions, about factors facilitating or hampering utilization of research findings in policy making processes, with practical exercises.

 Course themes included are:

1. Research and Policy Linkages: what can we learn from history? 

2. The role of research and researchers: motivation to engage?

3. Understanding the policy landscape

4. Models and strategies for policy engagement

5. Tools for engagement: science communication in practice

Knowledge requirement for participation

Participants should have completed or almost completed at least one scientific research paper




Articles, textbook chapters, policy reports/briefs, press releases, webpages etc. will be made available before the start of the course.

Main text book is: Baron, Nancy. 2010. Escape from the Ivory Tower: A Guide to Making Your Science Matter. Island Press


To pass the course the following must be fulfilled:

(i) Participation in at least 80% of the scheduled hours

(ii) Active engagement in practically oriented exercises

(iii) Approved research – policy plan linked to the PhD-students’ thesis work

(iv) Approved policy brief based on own research result

Support available to implement new knowledge and skills in daily work

Access to GMV’s network of researchers and, depending on demand and time, advice from the course organisers

Training methods and running schedule

The course will be concentrated to a few sessions. Participants are expected to work individually before, and between sessions with short assignments. A mix of lectures, student presentations, literature seminars and assignments will be included.

Guest lectures share their practical experiences from research-policy interaction in the course. The participants will link issues presented during course to their own research work and to the reality in different countries.

Knowledge sharing and sharing of experiences are important elements of the course. Practical assignments to be performed are:

- write a “research to policy plan” based on own research material. This includes a mapping of potential stakeholders and a plan for when and how to communicate with different stakeholders

- write a policy brief or press release based on one of the chapters in the dissertation

- make an oral presentation of your research findings

For more information contact the course coordinator