Freeman Spogli Institute introduces new International Policy Implementation Lab

April 15, 2014, 1:40 a.m.
Courtesy of Beth Duff-Brown
Courtesy of Beth Duff-Brown

The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) initiated its International Policy Implementation Lab last month, reflecting an effort to support, develop and fund long-term projects grounded in policy-oriented research on specific international issues.

According to Elizabeth Gardner, associate director for partnerships and special labs at FSI, the new lab is currently partly supported by an initial $2 million gift from two anonymous donors. The program is also supported by internal Stanford funding, which allowed the lab to get off the ground and roll out softly over the past few weeks.

“The lab came about because there are quite a few faculty that are doing policy-orientated research involving external organizations and concerned with how policy implementation happens and how it’s executed,” Gardner said.

At the moment, the lab supports six research projects. According to Gardner, the lab can be seen as both an overarching umbrella organization grouping together the various policy-based research projects and as a foundational support system for the research projects.

According to FSI director Mariano-Florentino Cuellar M.A. ’96 Ph.D. ’00, the lab’s role as a support system could include acting as a central location of resources that are easily accessible to both faculty and students or offering meeting spaces where faculty and students working on similar projects can meet with one another to exchange their ideas and thus facilitate interdisciplinary work.

“It’s not just about doing analysis and writing papers,” Cuellar said. “It’s about building relations with different organizations and scholars. It’s about thinking about the intersection of politics and policy. These different ventures can learn from each other. We’re bringing different projects that have similar missions under one roof.”

Adam Gorlick, communication manager for FSI, noted that the new lab strengthened relationships not only between different disciplines of policy, but also between the researchers and the external organizations with whom they work.

“We’re building relationships with the scholar and are open to partner with governments and non-governmental organizations, [to] building those relationships between outside organizations,” Gorlick said. “The information that can be transferred will benefit both the outsiders and the knowledge of the academics.”

Gorlick emphasized the value to the lab of student engagement.

“There’s a huge student component and one of the requirements for projects that come into the policy lab is that they need to have a very strong teaching mission,” Gorlick said. “This is both in terms of hands-on working and … research. We want to get students interested. [The lab] isn’t just a resource for faculty but is also a way to get students involved.”

Gardner observed that classes are currently taught through the lab based on faculty members’ research, and noted that in the future the lab hopes to offer more classes as well as internships for both undergraduates and graduate students.

“I hope that the opportunities will be substantial for students and underlying that goal is providing enhanced opportunities for student learning,” Gardner said. “There’s a student fellowship program that we’ve just received funding for, and we’ll probably get ready in the next couple of months to announce it.”


Contact Catherine Zaw at czaw13 ‘at’ stanford ‘dot’ edu.

Catherine Zaw was formerly the Managing Editor of News for Vol. 245 and Vol. 246. To contact her, please email [email protected].

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