At CAT Lab, one of our goals is to produce research that informs policy. But even when we succeed in producing useful findings, it’s not a given that those results will make it in front of policymakers and contribute to their decisions. That’s why direct engagement with policy is an important part of our work. This takes many forms, including direct engagement with staff of agencies and Congress, submitting research to requests for comments, sending our writing to non-academic publishers to reach a wider audience, and training our students in best practices for translating research to policy. 

One part of that training involves hosting “Big Tent” 🎪 conversations with our circle of students and collaborators. In this week’s meeting, CAT Lab graduate student Lucas Wright will discuss his experience working at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in Washington, DC this summer. At NTIA, Lucas gained valuable insights in bringing expertise developed in PhD work to bear on policy from inside the government. He also worked on a public request for comment on AI accountability, and through reading those comments, he witnessed first-hand effective strategies for making research useful for policymakers. 

In Monday’s conversation, Lucas will share thoughts on why spending a summer working in government can be useful to many graduate students and share the lessons he learned on how to submit research to request for comments. There are no required readings, but it might be useful to skim the NTIA’s AI request for comment and briefly reflect on the questions in the facilitation guide below. 



Facilitation Guide

  1. Policy engagement from inside government
    1. Have you had prior experience working inside a government agency? What did you learn from this experience?
    2. If not, what skills, expertise, or research insights do you have that might be useful in government?
  1. Policy engagement from outside government
    1. Do you have any past or future research that you think might be relevant to policy?
    2. What forms of engagement (panels, RFC submissions, direct engagement, etc.) have you found useful in the past? Or what do you think might be useful in the future?
  1. Brainstorming: Government agencies
    1. In pairs, brainstorm agencies, departments, or other offices (at any level of government) that are relevant to your research. Take a few minutes to research current internship openings or ongoing stakeholder engagement at these agencies.