What Is the Griffin Applied Economics Incubator?

The Kenneth C. Griffin Applied Economics Incubator aims to elevate the status of the University of Chicago as a hub for generating key initiatives that drive broad-based thought and policy changes. The inaugural year of the Incubator will focus on research in early childhood and the science of scaling evidence-based interventions within the field. Conceptualized and executed by the TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health in partnership with the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics, the Incubator will support the translation of ambitious and policy-relevant early childhood research into the realm of real-world applications.

Planned Activities

The Incubator will transform the way science is used to both develop behavioral interventions that strengthen opportunities and outcomes for children age birth to five, as well as use the science of scaling to replicate and disseminate evidence-based interventions at scale. Towards that end, the Incubator will bring together researchers and thought leaders from different disciplines such as economics, medicine, psychology, social work, and public policy to stimulate thinking and lead to the cross-pollination of ideas. Specifically, we envision the Incubator will serve as a platform to develop innovative approaches, advance and disseminate new research, and accelerate talent in the fields of early childhood and research on scaling promising approaches:

  • Innovation Fund: Translational research often suffers from a lack of funding due to its experimental nature. The Incubator will identify and invest in the most promising research focused on early childhood and issues around scaling, providing them with seed funds necessary to develop and test innovative approaches that yield transformative policy results, thus bridging the funding gap and catalyzing other sources of support.
  • Accelerator: The Incubator will host visiting professors, lecturers and post-doctoral students at the University of Chicago for a range of activities. There will be options to spend two to three days, a week or a quarter as part of the Accelerator. While the shorter visits will involve talks and review sessions with the visiting scholars, the quarter-long visit will involve teaching a course in addition to talks and presentations.  As part of their visits, researchers will explore partnerships and emerging lines of inquiry to advance the field of early childhood. Senior professors will also provide mentorship to junior faculty and post-doctoral students to strengthen their research skills and develop a pipeline of future leaders.
  • Conferences and Seminars: The Incubator will host convenings of researchers and thought leaders to advance the field by encouraging cross-pollination of ideas across diverse fields. There will be conferences in Fall 2019 and in Summer 2020. Potential conference topics include challenges and lessons for scaling evidence-based interventions in early childhood; addressing beliefs and behaviors through intervention development in early childhood; and lessons from early childhood interventions and practices from other parts of the world. In addition to the conferences, the Incubator will partner with existing educational workshops to promote collaboration among researchers and spearhead new lines of inquiry.
  • Publications: The Incubator will take a tiered approach to disseminate research findings to a wide audience:
    • Invited scholars will author journal articles, policy briefs and essays to advance and disseminate research.
    • The Incubator will also facilitate development of an edited book, of which the main objective is to provide practitioners and policymakers a compilation of research essays on promising approaches and findings in early childhood interventions and the science of scaling.

General questions about the The Kenneth C. Griffin Applied Incubator? Contact Diana Smith at dianas@uchicago.edu.

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