At first sight you are likely to be intrigued by the format of the AGORA© Fora. Let us start by stating that it is neither a straightforward academic conference, nor a mere dissemination exercise where the results of research would simply be communicated to a wider audience.
At the AGORA© Foras' origin lies the instigators’ will to organise effective interactions between the scientific community, decision makers and third parties with an eye on contributing towards efficient policy making. Dissemination is thus to be understood as a mainstreamed strategy: on the one hand, policy makers and third parties are to be involved in the production of scientific deliverables through specifically designed platforms. On the other, the policy implications of the scientific findings are to be distilled before being widely communicated.
Rooted in original scientific research, AGORA© Fora endeavour to improve policy making by fostering suggestions based on academic research and effective dialogue among a limited number of participants hailing from the research, policy making and civil society communities. To strenghten the integrity of underlying research, it may take 3 different forms:
INSTIGATION AGORA© Fora
INSTIGATION AGORA© Fora are organised early on in the research efforts. They aim is to instigate dialogue and foster questions shared by the different participating communities. Their expected outcome is on the one hand, to inform future research agendas, and to broaden the outlook of those engaged in the decision making processes on the other.
INTEGRATION AGORA© Fora
INTEGRATION AGORA© Fora are organised paralelly to scientific workshops. They are based on ongoing research efforts and aim to enhance these by confronting draft scientific work to the input of a wider, targetted audience. Their expected outcome to broaden the outlook of both those engaged in said research and of those engaged in the decision making processes.
DISSEMINATION AGORA© Fora
DISSEMINATION AGORA© Fora are rooted in accomplished original research. They endeavour to expand on research findings and thus strengthen the integrity of the underlying research while contributing towards its dissemination towards new audiences.They ultimately allow for substantiated and clearer recommendations to emerge.
AGORA© Fora are in other words innovative events, with twofold rationale: first, to provide the research community with rapid and targeted feedback from the policy actors working in their field of academic inquiry, and second to make the policy-implications drawing from recent research more tangible.
To make this possible, the organisers of AGORA© Fora developed the AGORA© methodology. It entails 3 steps and is rigorously framed:
STEP 1 -
Thematic modules: roundtables composed of a limited and balanced number of participants, hailing from the participating communities, form the backbone of the AGORA© methodology. Discussions are based on previously circulated specific research and/or technical background notes, respectivelly drafted by academics who participated in the underlying research, and/or by participating policy makers or experts.
Research background notes entail a summary of the original research, a brief assessment outlining the areas for policy improvement, and a short list of possible concrete policy suggestions.
Technical background notes entail a summary of the policy environment’s evolution; an assessment of key policy concerns; and a list of the perceived prevalent policy obstacles as well as their implied research questions.
STEP 2 -
Comparative Plenary Sessions: For each of the above-mentioned roundtables, a rapporteurs hailing from the advocacy community is charged with summarizing the results of the discussions publically presenting them. A subsequent Q&A session with all participants allows for further fine-tuning.
STEP 3 -
The AGORA© Foras' outcomes, depending on whether it is an INSTIGATION, INTEGRATION or DISSEMINATION exercise, are finetuned and respectively turned into research summaries to be fed into an upcoming research exercise; executive summaries to fed into ongoing-research; or policy conclusions to be turned into policy papers. These substanciated documents are in turn to be distributed to specific audiences accordingly.
Johan Robberecht Frederik Ponjaert
Programme Manager Research Fellow &
& Policy Outreach Officer Junior Scientific Coordinator