Our Research Approach

We provide academic rigour and practical solutions for some of the most complex issues facing policy makers and politicians across Queensland, Australia, the Pacific and beyond.

The Centre is a focal point for UQ researchers wanting to inform the debate today, to influence the policy of tomorrow.

Through robust and timely research and sustained policy engagement, the Centre for Policy Futures aims to enhance the University's position as a key source of ideas and insights on the policy priorities that matter to Australia and the Pacific region.

Our strategic research applies tried and tested methods to help decision-makers navigate this complexity and design more effective initiatives. Our projects draw on the extensive disciplinary expertise that UQ has in areas such as – but not limited to - Ethics, Philosophy, and Decision Science. 

Our research applies these approaches to support policy development and decision making on a wide range of areas, most notably across our four research themes:

  • Science, technology and society
  • Security, development and foreign policy
  • Energy, environment and sustainability
  • Justice, rights and empowered communities

Systems, Design and Futures thinking: tools and analytics for decision-makers

The Centre for Policy Futures supports government, industry and civil society to address complex challenges by applying leading approaches from systems, design and futures thinking. Policy makers and practitioners face an increasingly complex world with changes that are disrupting society, the environment and business practices. How we navigate these changes can mean the difference between impactful outcomes, and failure. By collaborating with partnering organisations, we can help to build their capacity and leverage their existing experience in new ways. 

Our strategic research applies tried and tested methods to help decision-makers navigate this complexity and design more effective initiatives. Our projects draw on the extensive disciplinary expertise that UQ has in areas such as – but not limited to - Ethics, Philosophy, and Decision Science.

Researchers at the Centre for Policy Futures work independently and collaboratively to:

  • Scan the horizon for emerging drivers of change which may disrupt an organisation, its supply chain, and its operating environment;
  • Develop scenarios to support more robust decision-making;
  • Evaluate social, environmental and economic issues influencing policy and regulation;
  • Applying design methods to make sense of, and reframe contested issues to support more creative and innovative solutions;
  • Help decision makers and stakeholders to identify critical uncertainties and develop probable and preferred futures;
  • Facilitate interdisciplinary and cross-sector engagement with diverse stakeholders in complex and contested issues;
  • Map an organisation's pathways to impact to identify critical barriers and opportunities for success;
  • Develop decision support tools, frameworks and scenarios to build long-term capacity in systems, design and futures thinking throughout teams and organisations; and
  • Provide professional development training for government, industry and civil society.

Policy analysis

The Centre for Policy Futures is centrally concerned with complex policy challenges. We seek to improve understanding and accelerate well-targeted actions to address major policy issues. The Centre works closely with governments, international bodies, key not-for-profit organisations and stakeholders. With a proven track record of delivering research to large consortiums such as Cooperative Research Centres, ARC Linkage Grants, Advanced Queensland Industry Grants and others, the Centre’s key capabilities include:

  • Policy and regulatory analysis
  • SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of existing policies
  • Government support and co-design of policy
  • Analysis of policy impact on industry and communities
  • Stakeholder analysis
  • Futures thinking, strategic foresight and scenario development
  • Analysis of how existing policies and regulation may support and/or hinder the installation of innovations, technologies and new processes
  • Development of policy recommendations.

Policy studies

In addition to research and engagement activities, the Centre works to expand UQ’s expertise and research capacity in policy studies to encourage a pipeline of students at the University with the skills and 'know-how' to translate research into policy. As such the Centre contributes to undergraduate and postgraduate coursework program design to ensure public policy is prominent in curricula.

The Centre offers a range of opportunities for UQ’s Early Career Researchers and Higher Degree Research students to maximise the relevance of their research and encourage a culture of ‘policy entrepreneurs’. For example, internships with the Centre and government departments will be offered, as well as an annual retreat on research impact, and mentoring opportunities with the Centre’s research staff and affiliates.

 

Ray Maher
Research Fellow, Centre for Policy Futures, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences 

Dr Jennifer Yarnold
Research Fellow, Centre for Policy Futures, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences