Funded by the USAID’s Civil Society Support Program in Central Asia, and implemented by Eurasia Foundation, the Think Tank Leadership Workshop Series for executives and analysts from non-governmental policy research and advocacy organisations in Central Asia aims at developing the capacity of think tanks with a view to, first, increasing the quality of policy research and evidence‐based dialogue and, second, to help consolidate their organisational strategy in order to better inform and influence public policy‐making processes.
Organised in two weeks at the end of April 2021, the workshops will enhance the capacities of managers and analysts from independent think tanks in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to produce high-quality policy proposals, to carry out advocacy activities promoting policy change and thus effectively influence policy making processes. In all, the workshop series will provide participants with a deeper understanding of the challenges of rendering policy analysis organisations more effective in relation to the political processes and the policy cycle in their countries.
- Objective 1: Strengthen think tanks’ capacity in the field of policy analysis, most importantly with regard to diagnosing public problems, collection of systematic evidence, and rigorous comparative analysis of the impacts of different policy alternatives, using the latest qualitative and quantitative methodologies. As an outcome, researchers will enhance their knowledge of state-of-the-art methodological approaches for policy analysis and impact evaluation and be informed about the latest tools and techniques available.
- Objective 2: Help participants understand the various background conditions governing information overload in the sphere of policy and to devise ways to increase the potential for their policy writing to have an impact on the readership; enhance researchers’ ability to write effective analytical reports, papers and briefs. As an outcome, they will improve their ability to structure and compose compelling analytical reports and policy products.
- Objective 3: Strengthen researchers’ skills for leadership, management (fundraising and communication) and effective strategic and advocacy planning, based on a sound under-standing of the government machinery and the network of societal stakeholders. As an outcome, they will be able to more effectively lead their organisations, develop advocacy strategies and initiatives, and link action maps to the behaviour of major actors and openings in the policy making process.
What’s the target group?
Senior policy researchers, think tank representatives and transparency advocates from four Central Asian countries. We aim for a balanced mix of participants from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and a 50:50 gender balance among participants in all workshops.
How do I sign up?
Applications will be collected using this portal. Deadline is 11 April. In addition to general information, each applicant will be asked to submit a CV, a brief statement of motivation as well as a 500-word problem backgrounder (in Russian language) that identifies a specific development policy problem they would bring to the workshop series. The idea here is that participants will be encouraged, already at this stage, to outline ways of analyzing a problem, which will be threaded throughout the training: building analysis into the organization’s strategic plan, fundraising and lobbying for the implementation of policy recommendations.
Participants will be selected in the week of 12 April 2021, on the basis of demonstrated relevance and the visibility of their ongoing work, effectiveness of existing communication and advocacy, as well as overall record of policy engagement.
Once selected, how should I prepare for the workshops?
Training materials will be sent out following the confirmation of participation, on 16 April. Participants will be able to go through a concise readings list and draw upon recommended learning resources.
How is the curriculum structured?
Three segments to be taught in Russian and English in half-day modules will include instructional elements on the usage of relevant tools (mainly for data and analysis) and the practical components that will focus on further developing skill sets necessary for action research, writing, visualisation, leadership and advocacy.
To address “Zoom fatigue”, segments will be taught in 3,5 hour sessions per day (starting in afternoon Central Asia Standard Time - UTC+06:00) and spread out in a manageable schedule that fits around participant work and family requirements.
Methodology for Policy Analysis and Evidence-Based Policymaking & Best Practices of Data Collection and Processing
- 5 sessions on 27 and 29 April 2021
- Instructor: Dr. Anar Ahmadov
- Segment 1 will re-familiarize think tank representatives with the most important state of the art methods for data collection, analysis and operationalization of research questions in the field of analyzing development policy. Many participants may have existing knowledge in these areas, but through these sessions we will seek to convey the latest research methods (including Big Data) and best practices (in, e.g., stakeholder analysis, drawing on quantitative and qualitative method-logical approaches. Using the 500-word problem backgrounder submitted as part of the application process, participants will bring a specific development policy problem that their think tank is currently aiming to address. Sessions within Segment 1 will then allow participants to apply the learned tools to this particular problem and allow them to continue with their “policy problem” throughout the remainder of the workshop series: from analysis to writing effectively about it, via planning to fundraising and advocacy.
Structuring Analytical Reports and Writing Effectively
- 4 sessions on 30 April and 3 May 2021
- Instructor: Dr. Bernhard Knoll-Tudor
- The second segment will introduce a number of tools that help participants communicate and produce effective policy writing, based on the writing sample they submit prior to the course: understanding the audience / audience scanning and choosing among types and templates of policy briefs. The segment will train think tank participants on how to structure analytical reports and policy briefs, offering practical guidance for synthesizing major findings of research, outlining a course of action towards solving the stated problem, developing of a set of clear, practical, persuasive recommendations and conclusions. Participants will also acquire an understanding of their policy recommendations as decision-making tools, pre-structuring their advocacy plan.
Thought Leadership and Planning for Effective Advocacy
- 4 sessions on 5 and 6 May 2021
- Instructors: Besa Shahini and Dr. Rolf Alter
- The third segment will equip think tank participants with practical skills for effective non-profit management and leadership, strategic planning, popularization of findings for decision makers. At a fundamental level, the first element of this segment will focus on how participants can internally strengthen and lead their organizations. Second, a better under-standing of the government machinery, the nature of leadership and decision making on public service delivery, and the landscape of potential partners in civil society will be key to framing an advocacy strategy. Using their “policy problem”, participants will draw a detailed map of their actions linked to the behaviour of major actors and openings in the policy making process across levels of government. Given the diversity of countries, emphasis will be put on the coordination and complementarity of national and local advocacy strategies.
How will the course be delivered?
The workshop series will be held online in Russian (Segment I) and English (Segments II and III) and embraces a participatory approach to e-learning. We deploy innovative learning formats offering different insights into academic concepts and providing space to reflect them against the lived experiences of think tanks in the region.
The training sessions will be delivered on the online platform ClickMeeting, which is easily accessible without download through a web browser. ClickMeeting has a range of tools for engaging and interactive sessions, including group breakout rooms, a presentation mode, whiteboard, participants’ surveys and a question mode, through which participants can type questions during lectures or directly engage in face-to-face exchanges.
Will I get a certificate?
A certificate of attendance will be issued by the Hertie School, co-branded with the USAID’s Civil Society Support Program in Central Asia, implemented by Eurasia Foundation.
Who are the instructors?
Dr. Anar Ahmadov, (PhD, LSE) is trained in political economy, sociology, development studies and public policy. Prior to joining Leiden University as Associate Professor, he has held research and teaching positions at Princeton University, Oxford University and the London School of Economics, and for over a decade worked as a consultant, analyst, and executive in international development, including as Director of Eurasia Foundation’s Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC) in Azerbaijan in 2006-2007. Anar has designed and taught over 20 executive education seminars for public sector and civil society executives and analysts from across Central Eurasia (from Ukraine to Mongolia). He is specialised in political-economic inequality, natural resource governance, migrant political behaviour, and the diffusion of political and economic ideas. He is a recipient of over twenty grants and fellowships, most recently the NWO Vidi grant (Є800,000,-) and individual fellowship from the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS).
Prior to his appointment as Director of Executive Education at the Hertie School, Dr. Bernhard Knoll-Tudor served as director of the Global Policy Academy at Central European University, Budapest. He worked for ten years for the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE), an international organisation devoted to “hard” security as well as to human rights diplomacy where he was involved in policy design and public relations at the level of field missions (Bosnia and Kosovo) as well as institutions (ODIHR, Warsaw). At ODIHR he served as chef de cabinet and principal speech writer for its Director. Held positions at the European Union Monitoring Mission, the United Nations Administration Mission in Kosovo, and with the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Bernhard earned a master in law at the University of Vienna and an MA in international relations and economics at Johns Hopkins/SAIS with a focus on IR theory (Bologna and Washington, DC). He obtained his PhD from the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, and is the author of Legal Status of Territories Subject to Administration of International Organisations (Cambridge University Press, 2008). As adjunct professor at the Hertie School, Bernhard teaches public international law as well as a number of skills courses. His most recent investigation into international legal issues surrounding the conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh appeared in EJIL:Talk!
Besa Shahini is an education policy analyst and activist. From 2017 to end of 2020, she served as the Minister and Deputy Minister for Education, Sport and Youth in the Republic of Albania. Most notably, during her mandate, Besa spearheaded distance and blended learning policy and practice for all levels of education in Albania. In the decade prior to joining the Albanian government, Besa focused her research and advocacy on education and EU integration issues in the Western Balkans and South Caucasus. She worked for think tanks – some of which she founded – in Berlin, Istanbul, Tbilisi, Prishtina and Sarajevo. Besa holds a Master of Public Policy from the Hertie School in Berlin, Germany.
Dr. Rolf Alter is an experienced economist and senior fellow at the Hertie School. He spent over 25 years at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris. In 2006, he was appointed Chief of Staff to the OECD Secretary-General, and in 2009 he became Director of Public Governance. Alter built a team of over 200 staff to support governments in improving their public sector performance for inclusive growth and economic competitiveness. He previously also worked for the IMF in Washington, DC, and for the German Ministry of Economy. Member of the Advisory Board of the Global Risks Report of the World Economic Forum. Rolf’s interests include institutional and regulatory reform, productivity, innovation, results-oriented budgeting, transparency, leadership and integrity. He holds a doctorate from the University of Göttingen. In 2013, he received a D.hc. from the National University of Hungary and in 2016 was awarded the O.P. Dwivedi Award by the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration (IASIA) for his outstanding contribution to public administration and policy.
Who are the organisers?
USAID’s Civil Society Support Program in Central Asia is a five-year program implemented by Eurasia Foundation to cultivate a vibrant and responsive civil society throughout the region, including Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and build a new generation of forward-looking civil society leaders (2019-2024). Over the course of implementation, the Program will achieve four inter-related objectives:
- Foster a cohort of civically responsible young leaders.
- Strengthen civil society’s role in promoting greater public transparency and accountability.
- Enhance civil society’s ability to quickly respond to emerging opportunities.
- Build the capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) to be financially viable and responsive to constituents.
Hertie School is a private university based in Berlin, Germany, accredited by the state and the German Science Council. It prepares exceptional students for leadership positions in government, business, and civil society. Interdisciplinary and practice-oriented teaching, first-class research and an extensive international network set the Hertie School apart and position it as an ambassador of good governance, characterized by public debate and engagement. Its Executive Education department offers tailor-made executive programs and expertise is designing high-level educational training programs for clients across all sectors: inter-national organizations, public administrations, non-profits, think tanks and academia. Projects and training curricula are developed in close cooperation with clients in order to respond to the specific needs of every organization and to guarantee maximum applicability of the acquired skills to the challenges that participants face in their professional life. Our team develops and delivers trainings on our Berlin campus, abroad or in interactive online formats that expand program offerings to participants around the world, regardless of location.
We have been teaching online throughout the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic, with over 500 participants utilizing our digital learning tools. This experience has been highly successful and positively reviewed by participants. We are therefore confident that we can provide an enriching online learning experience for the participants of this workshop series. Supported by experts from the Hertie School’s Digital Learning team as part of our backstopping, we rely on an advanced set of online educational tools allowing for interactive teaching sessions, plenary discussions, as well as video- and tool-supported group work in virtual break-out rooms. Our infrastructure for online learning is easy to use for participants and our team offers individualized technical support.
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