How do you effectively share ideas across the two cultures of research and policy? In 2012 the NERP Environmental Decisions Hub tried something different. Rather than cram in as many research presentations as possible, we sought to minimise the presentations to maximise the time for discussion. And rather than simply sell what we were already doing, we put the emphasis on listening to what policy people from the Department of Environment felt were issues of concern.
As the event took shape it became known as the ‘Think Tank’, and its primary aim was to create a space for sharing knowledge and expertise while brokering partnerships that will hopefully mature into working collaborations.
The Think Tank ran over two and a half days in mid December. It consisted of eight sessions, or themes, being run two at a time. Most of these themes included projects where NERP-ED researchers had recently made substantial progress. They also represented areas in which the Department of the Environment had a current interest.
“We’re not saying we’ve discovered the magical formula with our think-tank approach,” observed Hugh Possingham, NERP ED’s Director. “However, during the two and half days in which it ran, the Think Tank generated an amazing number of ideas and leads for future research projects; to my mind, more so than happens at more traditional conferences.
“Our researchers also took away important insights on what’s valued by policy makers and, I believe, the policy makers similarly walked away with a better idea on where our science can strengthen their policy development.
“The Think Tank approach is one that we’ll definitely be attempting to repeat and refine in the years ahead.”