From Research to Policy

If you are in Melbourne on Thursday evening then don’t miss out on our first From research to policy panel discussion. We have four great speakers this month including: Dr Joan Staples, Dr Kate Raynor, Dr Crystal Legacy and Dr Melanie Lowe.

Where? RMIT, Building 80, Level 10, Room 18
When? 4PM to 6PM

About Joan…

Dr Joan Staples is a political scientist, whose research focuses on the role of civil society in the democratic process.  She has had a career in policy and advocacy covering environmental issues, Indigenous and consumer affairs, and international human rights.

Joan will speak from the point of view of how 12 years ago she negotiated moving from active involvement in policy, to writing for academia.  She will highlight (a) the differences between the two, (b) how to ensure academic work is robust in the policy environment and (c) why she thinks the current political environment is in need of academic input.  She will also describe how in the past academics informed her advocacy work – for example, when she was ACF lobbyist in Canberra during the Hawke Government.

About Kate…

Dr Kate Raynor is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Her research focuses on housing, particularly in relation to the partnerships required to deliver affordable and social housing and the perceptions surrounding higher density housing in Australia.

Kate supports the Transforming Housing Research Partnership, an interdisciplinary action research project based within the Melbourne School of Design. This role involves work in research, advocacy, industry engagement and industry training and capacity building aimed at increasing housing outcomes for very low to moderate income households in Melbourne. Through this project, her work is focused on creating research-industry collaborations and directly influencing government policy.

Prior to becoming an academic, Kate worked in digital communications and community engagement companies using 3D modelling and online communication tools to support large-scale infrastructure projects

Kate’s presentation will begin with a discussion of the importance of translating research to policy and practice – both for professional reasons and to avoid existential crises. It will then briefly canvas some of the literature on barriers to research-to-practice translation and the awkward role of ECRs in this area.  Kate will then focus on her own work with the action research group, Transforming Housing, to share some of the success stories and lessons learned from an explicitly advocacy-based research project.

About Crystal…

Crystal is a Senior Lecturer in Urban Planning at the University of Melbourne, Australia and a former recipient of the Australian Research Council Early Career Discovery Fellowship and the Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellowship at RMIT University.  Crystal’s research focuses on questions of urban conflict, the post-political city, citizen engagement while her current research examines the politics of urban transportation planning with a specific focus on the role of the citizen in contested transport processes in Australian and Canadian cities. This research has been published in international journals and will also be the focus of a forthcoming book titled Urban Transport Politics: Citizen engagement and contested transport futures. She is the co-editor of Building Inclusive Cities: Women’s safety and the right to the city (Routledge, 2013) and of Instruments of Planning: Tensions and Challenge for more Equitable and Sustainable Cities (Routledge, 2016).

Crystal’s talk…

When you are a critical researcher, and the very essence of your academic work is to challenge the hegemonic structures shaping planning practice, policy and process, how might you then influence change? In particular, how might you influence change when the people that are in a position of power (e.g. decision-makings and senior policy officers) are the very people who are the subject of your critique?  In this presentation I will focus on the importance of non-policy and non-practice ways in which critical research can ‘affect change’, by engaging the question, what is a critical researcher to do in an era when ‘tangible’ policy ‘impacts’ are highly valued? I will do this by focusing on the important role of community-focused research translation.  My work into the politics of infrastructure planning has focused on the interventions made by everyday citizens and citizen action groups towards charting a new trajectory for Australian Cities. This work has taught me about the (1) importance of translating research outcomes to disparate community groups (the very groups who are contesting dominant as well as new infrastructure policy trajectories), and (2) the role of the academic and of intellectual leadership in the reimagining of the future city, with citizens. I conclude the presentation by offering some critical and personal reflections on the different ways I have sought to translate my research to the citizen groups doing the ‘work’ to change the city, from the bottom-up, towards a more just and ecologically sustainable future.

About Melanie…

Dr Melanie Lowe is a lecturer in public health at the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne. Her research spans the urban planning and public health fields, examining how to plan healthy and liveable urban environments. She works collaboratively with multidisciplinary teams of researchers and policymakers to strengthen the consideration of health in urban policy and planning. From 2014-15 she was a founding National Co-chair of the Australasian Early Career Urban Research Network.

Dr Lowe will explore how to strengthen the translation of research into urban planning policy and practice, with a focus on planning healthy and liveable communities. She will outline evidence on research- and practice-side barriers and enablers of research translation and explore how policy frameworks can assist researchers to understand policymaking processes, and better tailor research translation strategies to the political and policy context. She will use illustrative examples from her own experience of research translation and conducting policy-relevant research.


Australasian Early Career Urban Research Network