Online course “Leaders of change: developing Latin American policymakers´capacity to promote the use of knowledge in policy”


While over the last years there has been an increasing interest and institutionalization of knowledge in public decision-making, our work experience with political leaders shows that many of them need support as well as new tools and ideas to foster effective changes within their agencies regarding the promotion of a better use of research. Against this backdrop, this course shall focus not only on supporting the development of technical ability but also on how to approach common challenges that arise when seeking to strengthen the use of evidence taking into account political economy in these processes.

Content Strategy Group

Based on the firm conviction that there is a need to build new relevant knowledge in this field, for the design of the curriculum and the development of the online course materials we had the guidance of a Strategic Group made up of eight former or current senior policymakers (national and provincial ministers, secretaries and directors, among others) with a significant academic or research background from different Latin American countries:

  • Mónica Bifarello (Argentina). Current Minister of Social Development of the Province of Santa Fe.
  • José Joaquín Brunner (Chile). Current Director of the UNESCO Chair in Higher Education Comparative Policies. Former President of the Presidential Commission for Modernization of Education Chile (1994), Commission for the Study of Higher Education (1990), and the Commission for National Accreditation, and Vice President of the Higher Council for Education.
  • Roberto Steiner (Colombia). Current member of the boards of Ecopetrol and Bancolombia and the Board of the National Infrastructure Agency. Former Executive Director of the Colombian think tank Fedesarrollo and current Associate researcher. Former Director of the Research Department of the Bank of the Republic of Colombia.
  • María Concepción Castro (Guatemala). Former Minister of Financial Administration of the Ministry of Finance of Guatemala.
  • Héctor Wilfredo Díaz Romero(Honduras). Former General Director of Public Policies at the Secretariat Social Development of Honduras
  • Dionisio Borda (Paraguay). Former Finance Minister of Paraguay into two periods: 2003 to 2005 and August 2008 to June 2012. Founder and current board member of the think tank Center for Analysis and Dissemination of the Paraguayan Economy (CADEP).
  • Silvana Eugenia Vargas Winstanley (Peru). Former General Director of Policies and Strategic, and Advisor to the Minister’s Office of the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion.
  • Jorge Papadópulos (Uruguay). Current National Director of the Secretariat of the Minister of Education and Culture of Uruguay. Former director del Banco de Previsión Social del Uruguay and integrante del directorio de la Junta Nacional de Salud de Uruguay.

The course is developed with the support of the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP).inasp-logo-web

Curriculum of the Online course “Leaders of change: developing Latin American policymakers´capacity to promote the use of knowledge in policy”

Module 1. The challenge of public policy processes. The paradigm of complexity

  • What are public policies.
  • Players and resources.
  • Deciphering the public policy process: public policy models.
  • The role of knowledge in public policies.
  • Acknowledging challenges that affect the use of knowledge.

Module 2. Focus on information.  Detecting possible uses and available resources

  • How can research contribute to improve public policy.
  • Uses of research: a wide range of possibilities.
  • The need for information by level of management.
  • External or internal information.

Module 3. Generating information for decision making and management        

  • Usually available types of research.
  • Desirable characteristics of evidence and challenges for its incorporation to the public policy process.
  • Generation and use of internal knowledge (information, monitoring and evaluation systems).
  • Institutionalizing the use of knowledge in the public sector: two experiences in developing countries.

Module 4. Identifying and relating to potential research users and interpreters

  • The focus on actors: building the road for incorporating knowledge in decision making.
  • Executive or Legislative Power: stakeholders to consider.
  • Citizens: users and sources of information.
  • The battle for installing self-knowledge: the role of epistemic communities.
  • Decision-making Styles
  • Promoting a wider use of knowledge: a look from the adaptive leadership standpoint.

Module 5. Effective information communication            

  • Recognizing the political context: first step to effective communication.
  • Communication for policy influence.
  • Identify and build attractive and compelling messages.
  • Guiding the decision maker: How to make policy recommendations.
  • Dynamic formats to communicate evidence.

Workshop: Case analysis           

  • Reading, analysis and reflection on cases involving the challenges and problems that arise when seeking to use knowledge in policymaking.


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