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U.S. Policy Communications Training

Translating Scientific Research Findings for Non-Scientific Audiences, the U.S. Policy Communications Training Program builds on PRB’s 40-year legacy of training researchers to bridge the gap between research findings and the policy development process.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

The Opportunity

While research often has profound practical implications, it must be communicated effectively to a variety of nontechnical audiences to influence policy and programmatic change.

Current U.S. predoctoral graduate education is not designed to train researchers in how to communicate research results to nonacademic audiences. PRB addresses this gap with its U.S. Policy Communications Training Program.

The program prepares current Ph.D. students from U.S. academic institutions to influence policy and practice through effective communication. Participants learn to present findings on population and health topics in ways that are understandable and accessible to policy audiences, including decisionmakers, advocates, and the media. They will understand how research informs the policy environment; learn ways to communicate findings to U.S. and international policy audiences; and improve their ability to communicate in written and verbal formats.

The program’s main goal is to expand the cadre of U.S. population research professionals committed to policy communication. Its objectives are to: (1) address barriers that researchers face in communicating population-related research results to policy audiences; (2) engage a diverse group of predoctoral students (future population professionals) in policy communication over their careers; and (3) teach population scientists about the process by which research informs the policy environment, how to identify and communicate the policy implications of their research, and various tools/skills for communicating findings to U.S. policy audiences.

Our Approach

The U.S. Policy Communications Training Program consists of two components.

  1. Workshop: A week-long summer workshop in Washington, D.C., focuses on the role of research in the U.S. policymaking process and on techniques for effective communication of research findings to U.S. decisionmakers, media, and nontechnical audiences. Participants hear firsthand from congressional researchers, lobbyists, and others about their experiences using research to effect change. They also practice distilling policy-relevant messages from their research and communicating this information in nontechnical language.
  2. Practicum: During the academic year following the workshop, participants receive mentorship and apply lessons learned to create two policy communication products, such as a policy brief, blog post, web article, or op-ed, based on their dissertations or related research topics.

The Impact

PRB has trained nearly 100 Ph.D. students enrolled in reputable U.S. academic institutions and conducting research on population and health topics to communicate with U.S. policy audiences, including government decisionmakers, advocates, and the media, since 2015.

Make an Application

The 2020 training program awards were announced in April 2020. The announcement for the 2021 training program will be made on the PRB website in January 2021.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

 

We are limited to accepting participants whose research focus is 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.

 

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 supports students who are from USAID family-planning priority countries.

Unfortunately, at this time only students who are enrolled in Ph.D., Dr.PH., or other doctoral programs are eligible for this fellowship.

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.

PRB will arrange and pay for participant to travel to the workshop, which includes flights, hotel accommodations, and 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.