Social Scientists Seek New Ways to Influence Public Policy

As conflicts in Rwanda, Bosnia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have brought public attention to the problem of mass rapes, Dara Kay Cohen has fielded calls from the news media, advocacy groups, and think tanks about the policy implications of her research.

But public interest in her studies of sexual violence during war presents a challenge: Her research doesn’t offer the neat and tidy answers that policy makers and pundits seek.

“I’m trained to pitch a general argument on rape in wartime,” says Ms. Cohen, an assistant professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “But I would be asked very specific questions on what happened last month in the DRC, and how does my research speak to that? I find that a very difficult divide to bridge.”

For guidance she turned to the International Policy Summer Institute, at American University. The institute is one of a growing number of projects designed to connect academics to policy makers and the public. <Read more.>

Via Beth McMurtrie, The Chronicle of Higher Ed.