Training US Researchers to Pitch Ideas and Build Global Problem-Solving Networks

Academy for Global Engagement: A Partnership with Michigan State University for Agriculture and Engineering Fellows

How might we boost the capacity of early career academics to launch large-scale, high-impact international research programs?

Challenge

University researchers often have numerous resources at their disposal: subject-matter expertise, research insights, laboratory access, graduate students…The list goes on.  But translating research ambitions into impactful programs requires a much broader set of resources.  On-the-ground liaisons, grant funding, and cultural insights are but a few.  To build the global team and resource base essential for success, academics must be able to energize potential partners, garner their buy-in, and ultimately harness their support.

Solution

GKI knows that a key to energizing partners is explaining why you want to tackle a specific problem, not just how.  With this in mind, GKI partnered with Michigan State University (MSU) to develop a two-day, “bootcamp” style training designed to help their Academy for Global Engagement Fellows refine their “pitch” to potential partners.  MSU’s Academy for Global Engagement Fellows are early career faculty hailing from MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the College of Engineering who participate in global activities and who view scholarship through a global lens.  The training also helped the Fellows better understand the value of networks in conducting global research.  The interactive, high-energy training got participants out of their seats and improving their skills on-the-spot.  The Fellows immediately applied their new skills during meetings with potential partners (e.g., donors, policymakers) in Washington, DC.  After this live test, GKI reconvened the Fellows to help them refine their pitches based on lessons learned in their partnership meetings.

Results / Outcomes

  • Credited with helping the 2015 fellows raise more than $7 million in grant funding
  • Trained 29 fellows (9 in Year 1; 10 in Year 2; 10 in Year 3)
  • Created 9 new tools including “Pitch Diagnostic” and “Pitch Elements” to boost people’s ability to communicate ideas effectively
  • Successfully helped participants “think systematically and holistically” about their projects and the networks needed for success
  • Deepened our long-term partnership with MSU