The Environmental Policy Innovation Lab is: 1) a space for integrative, innovative, strategic, and experimental thinking and research around contemporary environmental policy challenges; 2) an open-ended channel through which the Environmental Policy Institute can engage and collaborate with external partners from government, community groups, and industry.
EPILab is both a physical space (i.e. room 3019 in the Forest Centre at Grenfell Campus) and a broader program that fosters innovative environmental policy thinking and research as well as engagement with EPI’s external partners. It aims to transform and complement typical academic processes by opening up boundaries between academia and the rest of society, and by focusing on the policy-relevant needs of external partners across different time scales (e.g. rapid, short-term, ad-hoc projects are encouraged). These activities are supported by the facilities of the space—such as modular desks, magnetic whiteboard walls, virtual conferencing capabilities, a mini-library, and information software—as well as the research and other capacities of EPI, including its core faculty, affiliate faculty, staff, and students (especially those enrolled in EPI’s Master of Arts in Environmental Policy program).
Although EPILab is a new initiative, and thus intends to be open to a variety of possibilities for collaboration, it is focused by a few foundational principles (i.e. the PEEPPS principles) to guide it in determining sorts of projects to pursue. Note that not every project is necessarily expected to meet every principle.
- Partner-Focused: Projects that involve a clear external partner, either as a collaborator or as an end user (or both), are generally preferable to completely in-house projects.
- Evidence-Informed: Pursuit of the holistic and objective truth (or the best approximation thereof) is generally preferable to using information selectively to justify given positions.
- Environment-Oriented: Projects with a clear focus on environmental or sustainability issues are generally preferable to those that solely concern other societal sectors.
- Policy-Relevant: Activities associated with policy processes, debates, contexts, or effects are generally preferable to those with little policy relevance. Mechanisms for influencing policy are within-scope, but EPILab does not intend to engage in public advocacy.
- Province-Prioritized: Work that benefits partners in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and especially the western region of Newfoundland, is generally preferable to out-of-province work.
- Student-Engaged: Activities that can genuinely benefit from the involvement of students, and in turn serve as professional development opportunities for those students, are generally preferable to those with little student involvement.
EPILab is meant to be mutually beneficial to both EPI (especially its students) and external partners.