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Our Approach

The Research - Practice Gap

Social science has a “last-mile” problem. Researchers typically toil away in the ivory tower and only share their findings with colleagues in academic journals and at conferences. No one comes along to help carry these findings that critical “last mile” to the practitioners, policy makers, and educators who could put those insights into action. Because of this gap, researchers frequently operate with little input from or collaboration with practitioners. They continue to produce research that often does not apply as well as it could to real-world problems or readily translate into solutions. That limits the potential of both research and practice to drive change.

The SPARQ Bridge

To help address this last-mile problem, we created SPARQ. Not just a think tank, SPARQ is a do tank that partners with practitioners to discover, implement, evaluate, and share evidence-based solutions to today’s most pressing social issues. At SPARQ, we specialize in working with practitioners to reduce disparities and inspire culture change in criminal justice, economic mobility, education, and health using insights from behavioral science.

Our expertise is in social psychology, a field of behavioral science that appreciates that people are both shapers of and shaped by their social worlds. To change what people think or do, then, we focus on how to make change in the world around them - through the interactions they have, the policies they follow, and the institutions they participate in. Our work is also deeply collaborative - we work closely with our practitioner partners to understand problems on the ground and to codesign and test solutions in the field. Our goal is to bridge the research - practice gap and close that last mile.

What we do

  • Design projects: We collaborate with practitioners to conduct research to diagnose problems, identify levers for change, and test strategies and solutions. See descriptions of some of our projects in criminal justice, economic mobility, education, and health.
  • Develop tools: We develop tools to translate and disseminate evidence-based approaches to sparqing change. Check out our digital toolkits and solutions catalog for examples.
  • Educate and train: We train practitioners and researchers, educate graduate and undergraduate students, and hold interactive clinics to bridge research and practice. Learn more about these activities.
  • Share insights and solutions: We also give talks, host workshops, write about our work, and more. Check out our publications and news to learn more.

Work with us

Want to partner with SPARQ? Explore our services.