July 2020

Griffin Applied Economics Incubator

Though the inaugural year of the Griffin Applied Economics Incubator has technically come to an end, the TMW Center looks forward to continuing many of the activities launched under the Incubator umbrella during the coming academic year. Despite disruptions caused by the coronavirus public health crisis, the Incubator achieved a great deal over the course of the inaugural (2019-20) year, which was dedicated to expanding early childhood research with an emphasis on the science of scaling evidence-based interventions.

Under TMW Center’s leadership, the Incubator succeeded in generating momentum around the notion that understanding how to scale promising interventions is the next frontier in the evidence-based policymaking process—a critical missing link that stands to enhance the efficacy of research, practice, and policy in early childhood education and development, to the benefit of all. Toward that end, the Incubator…

  • Awarded eight grants to support innovative, relevant research projects.
  • Hosted eight world-renowned researchers as Incubator Visitors, providing them an opportunity to deeply explore the challenges and opportunities of scaling, thus ensuring that some of the world’s brightest minds in economics, psychology, and child development will be committed to advancing the science of scaling in their own work, at their home institutions, and in their fields.
  • Hosted a dozen formal convenings and facilitated dozens more informal networking and mentoring sessions where scholars presented research, exchanged and debated ideas, and discussed how to incorporate the science of scaling in their work in ways that will generate solutions better-suited for scaling-up, and thus, benefitting more children and families.
  • Published columns, op-eds, and interviews in high-profile media outlets in order to reach thought leaders outside of academia and advance the idea that all stakeholders have a role to play in designing, championing, and implementing scalable early childhood programs.
  • Finalized an ambitious and exciting agenda for a thought-provoking conference, “Advancing the Science of Scaling,” that will bring together researchers, policy makers, advocates, and practitioners in June 2021.

In addition to all that we accomplished over the past year, we look forward to the following events and activities that will take place during the 2020-21 academic year:

  • Publication and distribution of an edited volume, The Scale-up Effect in Early Childhood and Public Policy: Why interventions lose impact at scale and what we can do about it (June 2021). Featuring contributions from an esteemed and diverse group of authors, including economists, psychiatrists, physicians, field researchers, and early childhood practitioners, this volume provides actionable blueprints for more effectively approaching scaling.
  • Publication of a special issue of the Journal of Political Economy dedicated to the economics of child development, which will signal the particular importance of this topic, expand the existing literature, and motivate other economists to tackle similar issues in their work.
  • The rescheduled “Advancing the Science of Scaling” conference (June 16-17, 2021)
  • Rescheduled visits from seven world-class researchers whose originally scheduled trips were cancelled due to COVID-19 (if and when they can be held safely)

In these ways and many others, the TMW Center will build upon the Incubator’s successful, foundational efforts to generate broader understanding of the science of scaling and its importance to early childhood.