Capacity Building

Capacity Building

Promoting a culture of evidence through training and policy engagement.

Promoting a culture of evidence through training and policy engagement.

Creating effective policies that improve peoples’ lives is not always a straightforward process.

Many policies are ineffective at achieving their goal, potentially diverting resources away from more impactful solutions. One way policymakers can craft effective policies and programs is by using data and evidence to help drive their decision making. However, not all policy actors are motivated and able to use data and evidence. This is where EPoD’s capacity building work aims to make an impact.

Our capacity building work increases policy actors’ skills and motivation for using evidence in decision-making.

We engage policymakers in activities that make evidence relevant to them,  thus increasing demand for data and research. In addition, we work with organizations to build tools for systematic evidence use. 

We do this by:

  • Embedding trainings on using evidence into governments and organizations
  • Collaborating on research-policy engagements
  • Offering custom and open-enrollment programs through HKS Executive Education
Contact us at to learn more about ways to be involved. 
News|June 8, 2021

MEL hosted a Training of Trainers workshop equipping Moroccan instructors to teach EPoD’s BCURE curriculum.

Article|March 17, 2021

EPoD & HKSEE welcomed 70 African Development Bank economists to a new COVID Recovery & Response course.

Article|April 1, 2020

Does group collaboration lead to better decision making for South Asian civil servants?

News|March 24, 2020

EPoD remains committed to promoting evidence-based policies & teaching practices around the world.

Video|March 19, 2020

Listen to EPoD faculty describe how our capacity building work helps promote evidence-based policymaking worldwide.

Article|February 20, 2020

A practical step towards bringing academics and policymakers together is simply starting a conversation in the same room.

Article|October 9, 2019

The BCURE training sessions serve as laboratories to understand how groups collaborate on learning.

Article|July 11, 2019

The Spring Issue article features interviews with Rema Hanna, Asim I. Khwaja, and Charlotte Tuminelli. 

EPoD builds the capacity of decision makers to use data and research through courses that apply cutting-edge pedagogy such as blended-learning, problem-based group sessions, and case teaching. Our courses cover topics like evidence-based leadership, impact evaluation, data systems, and policy/program design.

Click here to download EPoD’s brochure, "Training policymakers in the use of data & evidence."

EPoD builds the capacity of decision makers to use data and research through courses that apply cutting-edge pedagogy such as blended-learning, problem-based group sessions, and case teaching. Our courses cover topics like evidence-based leadership, impact evaluation, data systems, and policy/program design.

Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence (BCURE) Trainings


The Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence (BCURE) program empowers policymakers and civil servants with the knowledge and motivation to generate, use, and communicate data and evidence for more effective policymaking.

The BCURE curriculum, which was developed by Professor Dan Levy and other pedagogy experts at HKS, relies on a blended-learning approach (digital and in-class training) specifically developed for civil servants, government officials, and other policy actors. 

Read more about BCURE Trainings.

Training of Trainers Program


To build capacity at scale, we use a Training of Trainers model wherein we train civil service academies to incorporate our BCURE content into their syllabi. By doing this, we ensure that Harvard-designed reaches a larger number of policymakers and builds a culture of evidence into institutions in a cost-effective manner.

Read more about ToT Programs.

Training Research


Designing effective training programs is an important step towards achieving better public policies and wider evidence use. Research can inform which training and pedagogical techniques are more effective than others at increasing the use of evidence among participants, which can help improve future trainings while contributing to a broader literature on effective training.

Our research is typically embedded within a larger BCURE engagement to ensure that research is mutually beneficial: local institutions benefit from studying ways to improve their pedagogy and curricula. For example, our EPoD’s building team conducts lab-in-field experiments to study the effects of peer learning on the quality of policy decisions. 

In addition to embedding research within BCURE projects, EPoD’s capacity building research can also integrate with an Executive Education course, a policy-research collaboration, or another activity.

Read about one of our training research projects.

EPoD’s Executive Education programs are delivered in collaboration with Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education, and designed for a wide audience of policy practitioners. Any individual can apply to open enrollment programs, while custom programs are tailored to organizations’ unique goals and focus areas. Programs provide policy and program designers, managers, and implementers with hands-on experience applying tools to design, implement, and refine solutions that achieve real impact.

Annual Executive Programs




Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education (HKSEE) programs bring experienced professionals and senior policy practitioners together with world class faculty. We build our annual offerings to help people use evidence to improve lives. These programs are 1-2 week courses taught by Harvard faculty. 

At HKS, there are dozens of Executive Education courses with participants coming each year from over from 160+ countries. Leading Smart Policy Design is an EPoD-led HKSEE course for leaders and their teams charged with designing and delivering policies or programs that address social and economic problems around the world. This program is based in EPoD’s Smart Policy Design and Implementation framework (SPDI), a data-driven process for addressing policy problems. SPDI seeks to embed evidence at each step of the policy design cycle, and uses a team based approach so that organizations can leave the training with actional next steps for a policy or program that is important to them. 

Read more about courses chaired by EPoD faculty affiliates.

Customized Courses for Organizations




Organizations may find it effective to convene a dedicated cohort to cover targeted content based on a domain or specific organizational needs. EPoD offers custom courses crafting new training content tailored to individual organization needs. Custom courses can also be part of a broader engagement and include additional support activities such as dedicated follow-up to help apply lessons in the workplace as well as monitoring and evaluation activities.  

The timing of a custom course is flexible based on organizational needs but requires the same level of rigor as an open enrollment course to qualify for an HKSEE certificate. The length of the program is one week for residential programs and can vary for online programs depending on course structure.

Read more about Customized Courses.

EPoD’s capacity building initiatives also include policy-research collaborations, which are integral to EPoD’s mission and critical to building a broader culture of evidence. These collaborations can include policy dialogues, pilot projects, or other engagements that bring researchers and policymakers together for a specific objective.

Policy Dialogues

Crowd-sourcing knowledge can spur policy innovation. Our policy dialogues bring together researchers, policymakers and other key stakeholders to develop solutions to policy problems, build consensus on critical issues, and cultivate future policy-research engagements. These dialogues plant the seeds for key players to start using EPoD’s Smart Policy Design and Implementation (SPDI) approach to apply existing and generate new evidence to develop solutions.

Read more about Policy Dialogues.

Pilot Projects

Pilot studies and projects take a learning-by-doing approach to capacity building. Pilots help field-test innovative ideas and help researchers and practitioners develop large-scale research engagements that generate key evidence. These projects give researchers a deeper institutional understanding of programs, and allow them to try out the logistics of high-risk but high-return innovations that can then be tested at a larger scale.

Read more about Pilot Projects.

Custom Engagements

We collaborate frequently with organizations to customize our capacity building work to their research and policy goals, which can include pilot trainings on data and evidence use as a first step toward exploring collaboration. We also regularly present at conferences, etc. to give people a sample of our work and share learnings across the development space. Get in touch to learn more.