The Scholars Strategy Network (SSN) has one mission: connecting journalists, policymakers, and civic leaders with America’s top researchers to improve policy and strengthen democracy.
Started by a Harvard professor in 2011, the organization has grown from three people working in one office to 1,400 people at 270 universities across 48 states. Besides university-based scholars volunteering to serve the public good, the organization includes chapter leaders, staffers, and the steering committee.
While the SSN works to analyze policy impacts and advocate for evidence-based programs, its primary focus is supporting democracy. One way to accomplish this is by connecting diverse people, including scholars, policymakers, civic leaders, journalists, and other community members.
Four strategies help the SSN shape policy nationwide
First, the SSN serves policymakers. This can mean introducing scholars to civic leaders or having scholars testify before Congress. The SSN site boasts over a thousand research briefs, making data accessible and applicable to policy.
Second, the SSN creates strategies for digital and print media, as well as TV and radio, to promote research to the public without academic jargon. The No Jargon podcast presents weekly interviews with top researchers, while the SSN website allows experts to provide easily digestible case reports on policy matters.
Third, the SSN has over 30 chapters across the US. These networks incorporate community perspectives to target local policy issues with nuanced understanding.
Finally, SSN offers Training Research to Inform Policy, a workshop that gives scholars the skills to effect policy change and connect with local leadership. Personalized coaching for researchers is available, as well as assistance building local and national relationships, designing policy-driven research, and creating cross-state, issue-based partnerships. Examples of issue-based groups include Medicaid access, reproductive rights, and civic engagement on college campuses.
Indiana has its own SSN chapter, led by Dr. Rosalee Clawson and Dr. Leigh Raymond of Purdue University. In the last year alone, research interests included automated vehicles, ethnic groups, and agricultural policies. Chapter members or their research have been quoted in publications like The Washington Post and The Hill.
The SSN welcomes university scholars or researchers with peer-reviewed work. Members can place OpEds, connect with journalists, interact with policymakers or other scholars, and receive training to boost the impact of their research.
Free resources are also available on the SSN’s website, which offers guides on talking to reporters, writing OpEds, generating fact sheets or talking points, and creating public comments or replies to policy questions.
Whether you’re a scholar wanting to influence policy, a journalist in need of trusted sources, or a policymaker seeking evidence-based results, the SSN can help. By connecting research and policy, the SSN encourages innovative solutions for social issues, preserving democracy and creating change across communities and the country.