Evans School of Public Policy & Governance

The Wolfle Action Lab @EPIC is made possible by the Dael L. Wolfle Endowment for Excellence in Public Affairs. Established to honor Professor Wolfle’s (1906-2002) distinguished career and many contributions to the field of public affairs, the Action Lab supports the work of Evans School faculty and the Evans Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC) to convene noted scholars and practitioners and move forward solutions to the most urgent policy topics of the day.

The Wolfle Action Lab @EPIC is an important way to engage faculty in the school’s mission to “host communities to co-create solutions to pressing societal problems.” It is premised on the notion that dialogue and exchange across diverse fields of expertise is necessary for the development and adoption of solutions. The Action Lab draws upon the skilled facilitation tools of EPIC staff to host sessions where researchers, practitioners, those with expertise from lived experiences, and policymakers engage in meaningful dialogue across differences. More than simply sharing ideas, research findings, and perspectives, Wolfle Action Labs are intended to develop collaborative planning for program or system redesign, implementation strategies that can be administered in real-time, and feasible policy recommendations. The Wolfle Action Lab convenings and projects will operate consistently with the Evans School’s values of equity, courage, and public service.

As governments continue to lean into commitments to equity and anti-racism, they grapple with the challenges of how to actionably update their policies and processes to better collaborate with and service their constituent communities. At the local level, community-led approaches to change have the potential to be particularly effective, but can be challenging to implement in an authentic and effective way. In the Pacific Northwest, there have been many efforts to engage in this type of work by incorporating approaches informed by behavioral science, which attempt to center how people experience and engage with government policies. However, there is still a lack of extensive evidence-based best practices in this space that take an equity-forward approach to the work. Due to this, conversations that center equity and anti-racism often occur separately from conversations that center person-informed design and behavioral science approaches to pressing local issues.

In Spring 2024, we will bring together leaders in both the academic and practitioner communities to explore questions of how to provide guidance and evidence-based best practices for those working at the local level on these issues. Through the unique combination of stakeholders engaged we will leverage the current state of the scholarly literature, while also being mindful of the practical constraints and challenges faced by actors within this level of government.

General inquiries about this project may be addressed to: evansepic@uw.edu.