"Is Anybody Listening? The Impact of Global Environmental Politics Research"

Apr 12, 2004

ECSP Director Geoff Dabelko participated in a roundtable discussion titled "Is Anybody Listening? The Impact of Global Environmental Politics Research" at the International Studies Association's annual conference in Montreal. Paul F. Steinberg of Johns Hopkins University chaired the roundtable, which included Juliann Emmons Allison of University of California, Riverside; Adil Najam of Tufts University; and Hans Bruyninckx of Wageningen University, Belgium.

Dabelko suggested that researchers and policymakers often do not speak the same language. Even if policymakers are trying to listen, researchers do not communicate in formats that they can use. He emphasized that researchers need to eliminate jargon and reduce theoretical complexity to get their message across. "We need to be Op-Ed writers," he said, but support those opinions with rigorous scholarly research. Also, to impact policy, researchers should focus on the problems in the policymakers' in-box. To stand out from the tons of reports the average bureaucrat or congressional staffer receives every day, research must be pertinent and timely.

Hans Bruyninckx contrasted the United States with Belgium, where it is easier for researchers and policymakers to communicate because everyone knows each other in the small community. Paul Steinberg focused on the challenge of instituting new programs outside a NGO's core activities. Juliann Emmons Allison used the example of the California energy crisis to illustrate how research could help policymakers and the private sector look for solutions by providing them with neutral information. Adil Najam spoke about the issues facing researchers and policymakers in developing countries.

Summaries of the panelists' presentations will appear in an upcoming issue of International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics.

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