The William T. Grant Foundation has long supported research to improve the lives of young people, but we know that there is considerable distance between the research we support and youth outcomes. For the past ten years the Foundation has supported studies to build theory and empirical evidence on ways to strengthen the connections between research evidence, decision making, and youth outcomes.

In our efforts to build this field, we have compiled syllabi from courses focused on the use of research evidence in policy or practice. We hope that instructors will find them helpful for teaching and learning about the use of research.


  • The Role of Research in Policy and Practice

    Cynthia Coburn and Alice Huguet, Northwestern University

    This course is focused on exploring lessons learned from empirical research on the role of research evidence in policy and practice. Students learn to compare the efficacy of various approaches to using research in policy and practice.

  • Toward Organizations That Learn: Integrating Research and Practice in Education Systems

    Carrie Conaway, Harvard Graduate School of Education

    This course is focused on the ways that education agencies can become learning organizations and improve their work through the use of research evidence. Students learn to evaluate the relevance of different types of evidence for decision-making, study the organizational conditions and contexts that promote research use, and consider different ways to integrate research and practice to promote learning and improvement within education organizations.

  • The Politics of Research

    Jeffrey Henig, Teachers College, Columbia University

    This course is focused on the interplay between politics and research in the policymaking process, and the implications of these interactions for both researchers and decision makers.

  • Evidence-Based Management

    Denise Rousseau, Carnegie Mellon University

    This course is focused on training managers to utilize principles of evidence-based management in their work. Students learn to find, interpret, and use scientific evidence; implement evidence-based processes for decision making; and build an evidence-based management culture within an organization.

  • Evidence-Based Policymaking

    Hilary Shager, University of Wisconsin, Madison

    This course is devoted to exploring the theory and skills to understand how policymakers use research evidence in their work, how researchers can make their work useful to policymakers, and how stakeholders use research and other types of evidence to shape policy.

  • The Role of Evidence in Public Policy

    Miron Straf, Social and Decision Analytics Laboratory (SDAL) The Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech

    This course is focused on the use of social science research from multiple disciplines in policy decision-making. Students, future policymakers, and policy actors learn to promote the use of research in public policy processes.

  • Understanding Public Policy

    Paul Cairney, University of Stirling

    While this course is not strictly focused on the use of research evidence, this undergraduate course enables students to develop an understanding of the policymaking process (with some attention to the theory of evidence-based policymaking), and could be very informative for instructors developing a course focused on the use of research evidence in the policy process.

Training Manuals