Policy Labs

Policy Labs are an elective course for students in the School of Public Policy. Run over three terms and supported by CEU faculty, students work in small teams of three-four to produce and present a piece of original research for an external client that is engaged in public policy advocacy, implementation and development. Clients vary in size and subject, but all come from the public, private and civic sectors and share a common interest for using social science research in support their work.

Policy Labs offer real-time practical experience on producing and using policy research. The course is based on the assumption that in many cases, policy oriented research is carried out by teams rather than individuals. Policy labs are made up of small groups working in close collaboration, drawing on quantitative and qualitative methods, and making their recommendations after close consultation with interested parties.

Participants learn how to communicate their research to audiences from very different backgrounds. Students need to show imagination and creativity in presenting and explaining their findings and to show an appreciation of the organizational and policy context in which their research might be used. Research design needs to demonstrate relevance and participants need to be able to show confidence that their chosen research methods can stand up to scrutiny.

Policy Labs will be of interest to organizations that amass data but, for reasons of time or capacity, are unable to analyze or systematically exploit the material. Analyses carried out by Policy Labs can help inform internal decision making and provide research based knowledge for advocacy work. Policy Labs can communicate current academic research with tailored literature reviews addressing specific questions. Labs can make direct contributions to improving and developing client initiatives. They can, for example, offer alternative methods for project evaluation or impact assessments, using field visits, interviews, small group interviews and original surveys. Methodologies vary with projects but are always worked out in close collaboration between Policy Lab groups and the client.

Student participants can see how their research fits within a real time cycle with the workplan following very specifics schedules in mind, for instance, to be presented as part of an ongoing review, to address a particular event or public hearing or to help initiate a new advocacy program.

Policy Lab outputs include briefing reports, policy studies, reviews of academic and practitioner literatures, policy scenarios and situation reports and in-depth case studies.

 

Course Director: Andrew Cartwright

 

POLICY LAB PROJECTS

Central European Labor Studies Institute is a non-profit policy oriented research institute based in Slovakia. It fosters multidisciplinary research on the functioning of labor markets and institutions, work and organizations, business and society, and ethnicity and migration in the economic, social, and political life of modern societies… More

Education Support Program is a grant giving and activist organization within the Open Society Foundations network. Its mission is to make the right to education meaningful by combating inequality and discrimination and exposing structural inequalities that reproduce education disadvantage and exclusion… More

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, Christian organization that seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world and make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action worldwide… More

Hungarian Association of NGOs for Development and Humanitarian Aid was established in 2003. As with other new member states, accession to the European Union highlighted the need to develop structures and mechanisms for international development co-operation policy… More

Hungarian Development Agency was responsible for coordinating the allocation of European Union development resources in a way that best facilitates sustainable development… More

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is the largest humanitarian organization in the world, providing assistance regardless of nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinion… More

Mapping Digital Media project is an Open Society Foundations initiative which looks at the impact of the "digital switchover" on journalism, democracy, and freedom of expression in 56 countries… More

Open Society Justice Initiative is part of the Open Society Foundations and uses law to protect and empower people around the world. Through litigation, advocacy, research, and technical assistance, it strives to secure legal remedies for human rights abuses, and promote effective enforcement of the rule of law… More

Roma Decade Secretariat is a foundation registered in Hungary as the Decade of Roma Inclusion Secretariat Foundation… More

Roma Initiatives Office is an initiative of the Open Society Foundations to promote integration and equal opportunities, to combat segregation, and challenge all forms of discrimination faced by Roma at the European, national, and local levels… More

• United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is the part of the United Nations Secretariat responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to emergencies. OCHA also ensures there is a framework within which each actor can contribute to the overall response effort... More