Professional development course

Engaging Evidence and Policy for Social Change

Course details

From 15 January 2019 until 17 January 2019
Institute of Development Studies
1600 Charities, civil society and public sector; £1200 Small charities (income under £10 million); £2000 Private sector

Help shape your organisation’s use of evidence and engagement with policy

With the global rise of inequality and conflict and the acute challenges facing the most socially and politically excluded, civil society organisations, charities and development agencies are increasingly concerned with how to effectively broker the knowledge of marginalised communities. Influencing decision makers and institutional practice with evidence requires an explicit focus on power and politics – seeking ways to promote positive change in highly complex policy environments.

During this unique learning experience you’ll join other organisations dedicated to social change to explore what we mean by evidence, whose knowledge really counts and how you can more effectively engage policy communities with the lived experiences of those whose voices often go unheard. You’ll acquire conceptually rigorous tools for promoting evidence informed policy and practice and with peer support adapt these to your own organisational context.

In addition to your three-days at IDS, the course includes an online learning exchange 16 April 2019.

Course aims

To equip you with the concepts, skills and competencies required to operate effectively at the interface between policy and evidence. To enable you to design achievable plans to enhance your organisations’ or programmes’ capability to broker knowledge on behalf of marginalised communities and put these to the test.

Who should attend?

The programme is ideally suited to those leading policy and research in their organisations’ or programmes’ who are seeking to enhance their evidence literacy and policy engagement capacity to become more effective advocates for social change.

Whether your key interests relate to: Understanding policy processes in a particular context, delivering evidence-informed policy advocacy, or adapting to fast-changing demands for evidence, we will help you locate your work in relation to the latest trends in knowledge for development.

You’ll join an international cohort of policy and evidence innovators from development agencies, charities, social enterprises, research organisations and think tanks to share learning and gain new insights into improving policy processes through better use of evidence.

How you’ll learn

The programme combines seminars delivered by leading international experts, peer learning group work and presentations on key technical areas with plenty of time for critical reflection. Over the three days at IDS you’ll develop a framework for strengthening evidence informed policy and practice focused around specific aspects of evidence literacy and adaptive policy engagement. You’ll then have the opportunity to validate concepts and test approaches in your organisation or sector before re-joining the cohort in April for an online facilitated knowledge exchange event.

Learning outcomes

After completing this course you will be able to:

  • Re-evaluate your organisations or programme’s use of evidence and theories of change.
  • Adapt to fast-changing policy demands and deploy new tools for understanding how change happens in a particular context.
  • Systematically identify and appraise policy relevant evidence.
  • Frame research for policy and practice and develop coherent evidence informed policy offers.

Course contributors

Dr Marina Agpar, Research Fellow in Participation, IDS
Marina is a human ecologist with 20 years of experience working directly with marginalised communities in international development across the research-practice divide supporting locally defined development pathways. Her methodological expertise lies in use of Participatory Action Research which she combines with complexity aware use of theory of change to understand how social change happens from the perspective of marginalised communities.

Kerry Albright, Chief – Research Facilitation and Knowledge Management, UNICEF
Kerry has 20 years of experience in evidence-informed policy development and analysis, innovation systems, and research-policy linkages. She currently leads the research facilitation and knowledge management activities of the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti.  Previously she led DFID’s Evidence into Use team.

Vivienne Benson, Communications Officer, IDS

Vivienne is a communications specialist in the IDS Knowledge, Impact and Policy Team. Her expertise ensures IDS research and knowledge reaches the right audiences, enabling the Institute to engage in key policy debates, link different perspectives and build new relationships. She has designed and delivered uptake strategies for a wide range of national and international research programmes.

Professor Paul Cairney, University of Stirling
Paul Cairney is Professor of Politics and Public Policy, University of Stirling. He is a specialist in politics and public policy, currently focusing on the ways in which policy studies can explain the use of evidence in politics and policy, and how policymakers translate broad long term aims into evidence informed objectives.

Dr Louise Clark, Learning Manager, IDS
Louise has worked as a monitoring, evaluation and learning professional for the past 10 years, in which time she has worked for both Oxfam America and Action Aid International and as an independent evaluator. She currently leads the monitoring, evaluation and learning strand of work based in IDS’ Knowledge Impact and Policy team.

Hannah Corbett, Head of Communications and Engagement, IDS

Hannah leads the Communications and Engagement team at IDS which is responsible for the coordination, planning and delivery of cross-institutional policy engagement, corporate communications, publishing and marketing. She has over 10 years of communications and policy engagement experience gained working in, and with, academic institutions, charities, and the public and private sectors.

Professor John Gaventa, Director of Research, IDS
John is a political sociologist, educator and civil society practitioner with over 30 years of experience in research, teaching and facilitation, and organisational leadership in North and South. He previously served as Director of the Coady International Institute and Vice President of International Development at StFX University in Canada (2011-2014). Prior to that, he was a Fellow in the Power, Participation and Social Change team at IDS, and Director of the Development Research Centre on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability.

James Georgalakis, Course Director, Director of Communications and Impact, IDS
James has worked predominantly in advocacy and policy communications roles over the past 20 years, joining IDS in 2010. Editor of the Social Realities of Knowledge for Development (IDS 2017), he has delivered learning events on policy engagement for researchers and practitioners to many university faculties, research organisations and NGOs in South Asia, Africa, Eastern and Central Europe and the UK. He is also Director of the Impact Initiative for International Development Research. He regularly blogs on research to policy processes.

Alan Stanley, Knowledge Manager, IDS
Alan has over 20 years’ experience developing and delivering high quality websites, digital content and publications on a broad range of development and environmental issues. A key theme throughout his work has been promoting open and equitable access to information using digital technologies. He manages Eldis  – one of the leading global portals providing access to research on international development.

Dr Stephen Thompson, Research Officer, IDS
Stephen’s research interests include health, nutrition, disability and education. He has worked for both research institutes and non-government organisations in both Europe and Africa. He is part of the Knowledge 4 Development Programme that provides the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) with support for the use of evidence and expert advice in policymaking.

Please note that course faciliators my be subject to change.

Entry requirements

Before the course commences, you’ll be expected to share a case study, or details of an active project, to which you intend to apply your learning from the retreat. All participants will be expected to join the online knowledge exchange event on 16 April.

The course is taught in English. To derive the maximum benefit from the course, you should be proficient in English and able to take an active part in discussions. Your English needs to be of an intermediate standard or higher. Ideally you will have an International English Language Test System (IELTS) score of 6.5 or above, or a Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR) score of B2 or above.

Course fees

Course fees include lunches and refreshments, an evening group dinner, and course materials. It does not include accommodation.

£1600 Charities, civil society and public sector

£1200 Small charities (income under £10 million)

£2000 Private sector

Once you have received confirmation that your application has been approved, the fee must be paid in full on receipt of invoice.

Scholarships and bursaries

IDS Civil Society Policy Engagement Scholarship
IDS is delighted to offer one full-fee scholarship to a policy advocate, researcher or activist in a civil society organisation in the Global South.   

The scholarship is available to individuals from lower or middle-income countries (see our country list) who are currently engaged in work related to bringing the voices of the socially and politically excluded to the attention of regional, national or international policy makers. Selection will be based on the applicant’s ability to demonstrate the potential of the course to enhance their organisation’s or programme’s engagement with a critical policy debate affecting marginalised communities in their home country.

Within 12 months of completing the course the successful applicant will be required to provide a short report to IDS on how they applied the learning they gained to their evidence informed policy or advocacy work and the subsequent impacts on policy processes and practice.

The scholarship application deadline is 1 October 2018.

IDS alumni bursary
We are pleased offer one bursary for IDS alumni. This single award, funded by IDS, is in the form of a 20 per cent course fee discount. It is subject to terms and conditions, and will be offered to one applicant on a first-come first-served basis. Please indicate on your application form that you wish to be considered for this bursary.

How to apply

Before applying please read our short course Terms and Conditions (pdf) and Code_of_Conduct (pdf).

The application procedure is a three-stage process:

Stage 1: Apply by completing the online application form. Deadline for applications is 7 January 2019. The course code is KM18003.

Stage 2: You will be notified within one month as to whether your application has been approved or not. Successful applicants will receive the Stage 2 application form and an invoice for the course fee. Places on the course are not guaranteed until fees have been received.

Stage 3: Once fees have been received, you will be sent confirmation of your place on the course and a letter to support your visa application (if required).

You are responsible for organising your own travel and visas (where needed). Please note that UK visa applications can take months to process. Information about local accommodation will be provided by the course coordinator once your fees have been processed. A limited number of study bedrooms at IDS are available for rent on a first come first served basis.

Image: University of Sussex, Library Square. Credit: University of Sussex

Teaching staff

Image of Marina Apgar
Marina Apgar

Research Fellow

Image of Vivienne Benson
Vivienne Benson

Communications Officer

Image of Louise Clark
Louise Clark

MEL Manager

Image of Hannah Corbett
Hannah Corbett

Head of Communications and Engagement

Image of John Gaventa
John Gaventa

Director of Research

Image of James Georgalakis
James Georgalakis

Director of Communications and Impact

Image of Alan Stanley
Alan Stanley

Digital Knowledge Manager

Image of Stephen Thompson
Stephen Thompson

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow


About this professional development course

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