In addition to basic research, one of DIFIS’s essential tasks is to bring academia, politics and civil society together. Transfer formats will be used to convey suggestions from practice into research topics. In this sense, DIFIS acts as an innovator, it seeks to interact with the public and important social actors and it creates opportunities for policy advice. But how will all this work? The individual activities and formats are presented in more detail below.

Transfer workshops

Transfer workshops are discussion events on specific topics that are open to the general public. The aim is to discuss scientific findings in a targeted manner, based on concepts of “citizen science” and “community-based research”, and to develop recommendations from the dialogue with policy-makers and practitioners.

Brown bag seminars

The “brown bag seminars” offer the initiators from academia, politics and civil society the opportunity for an informal exchange in a protected space. In a relaxed atmosphere and in a small circle of participants, short inputs are provided on current topics, discussions are held and opinions are exchanged. The thematic focus is determined by the initiating actors themselves; DIFIS assists them in a facilitating and advisory capacity.

Analysis of policy advice

In order to provide research-based, forward-thinking and addressee-oriented policy advice in social policy, DIFIS is taking stock of social policy advice for the years 2000 to 2020. The survey will provide information on topics, formats and means of exchange between academia, politics and civil society. The results will be evaluated and recommendations developed in dialogue with experienced policy advisors from academia, political parties, associations and public administration. These recommendations will contain a new conceptualization of the forms of social policy advice as well as institutional realignments. Above all, a stronger integration of the sub-fields of social policy could be a central goal of reforms.

Analysis of teaching & further training

High-quality and sustainable social policy research can only be ensured through interdisciplinary and research-oriented education. First of all, a survey of the social policy teaching on offer at universities and universities of applied sciences will provide information on the existing potentials and deficits. The survey will take place in 2021/22 and will consider the subjects of political science, sociology, social work, economics and law. The results will form the basis for the DIFIS recommendations on the further development and institutionalization of an interdisciplinary social policy qualification programme in Germany. In addition to training at universities of applied sciences and universities, the aim is also to impart knowledge about social policy at schools and to offer further training for practitioners in politics, administration and associations.

Analysis of data infrastructure

A well-functioning research infrastructure is an important prerequisite for a research landscape in which academically and politically integrated concepts can be developed which are of use to policy-makers, administrators and the interested public. To this end, the activity area “Data” will first compile a systematic overview of the existing data infrastructure in social policy research and then use this to identify gaps and new needs. A systematic survey will be conducted in 2022. This stocktaking will also facilitate the fine tuning of the DIFIS research programme with regard to existing or missing data resources.