My policy outreach activities target a wide range of stakeholders and aims to inform policymaking and implementation in primarily two ways: first, by demonstrating how my existing research can help understand and improve policy; second, by using emerging policy problems to design new research projects that will produce actionable recommendations for change.
Applying existing research to better understand and improve policy
I frequently give talks to think tanks and government agencies in the UK, US, and China: Chatham House, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, National Endowment for Democracy, Woodrow Wilson Center, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, among others.
Working in Washington, DC, gave me practical experience in writing policy briefs and articles, a skill that has been useful in my more recent work advising and consulting for various organisations in government, business, and advocacy.
To reach an even wider audience, I often write for the general public, drawing upon my existing research to offer insight and understanding of unfolding events worldwide. For example, in the early years of Syrian conflict, my coauthors and I wrote an op-ed for CNN where we argued that humanitarian intervention from world powers like the US would be unlikely, based upon our quantitative research on the topic published earlier in Foreign Policy Analysis.
To read more examples of policy outreach visit my Commentaries & Op-eds page.
Designing new research to inform more effective policy change
I have also used commentary writing to first reflect on recent news events and then develop larger-scale, academic research projects.
For instance, in the days after China repealed its 'one-child policy' I wrote in the South China Morning Post that this policy change could have a positive effect on the lives of LGBT people in China by diminishing the family pressure they feel as their parent's 'one-chance' to perform the expected traditional, heteronormative duties.
This compelled me to design a research project which ultimately demonstrated how the family pressure felt by LGBT Chinese was not just due to the one-child policy, but also reforms in elder care provision that shifted the burden from the state to the family. Together, these two policies have had a disproportionately negative (if unintended) effect on lesbian and gay people in China. This research was published in the Journal of Homosexuality.
Another large research project in progress seeks to better understand how the general public in Britain views government expenditure on preventative drugs, a project that I conceived of in response to NHS England's decision to not provide full access to PrEP, a highly efficacious preventative anti-HIV drug.
Beyond just PrEP and HIV, this project hopes to inform policymakers about the actual— rather than anticipated—public response to public expenditures on a wide range of preventative drugs amidst government cost-cutting. I have already disseminated research findings to policymakers and the general public: in a Guardian commentary in September 2018, at a public exhibition in London’s OXO Tower, and meetings with members of parliament. will be partnering with national HIV and LGBT groups in London and around the UK.