At the Center for Applied Public Research, we talk a lot about how communities of practice can bridge the gap between research and practice. But what is a community of practice, and where can you find one?

A community of practice is a group of people who come together to learn about a specific topic, sharing ideas and experiences in order to put what they’ve learned into practice. 

Successful communities of practice can look very different. They can be informal — some people may already be in a community of practice without calling it that, like a group of gardening hobbyists who meet up to swap tips and tricks. Communities of practice can also be more structured, like a group of practitioners working on food system resilience around the country, or a group of volunteer managers working at different non-profits in the same city who meet to discuss their work.

In the Center for Applied Public Research’s Economic Mobility Policy Forum, our community of practice, policy practitioners from around the country come together to discuss projects and policy initiatives focused on economic mobility with each other and experts in the field. The Forum is a critical space especially in an election year, as people debate at all levels how to change policy to improve lives.

New community of practice members often feel that they have more to learn than to teach others. But no matter what your experience level, sharing your knowledge and experiences has value. By engaging in a two-way dialogue, you’ll develop a trusted network with which to collaborate on new ideas and approaches.

Ready to reap the benefits of communities of practice? If your work touches on economic mobility, we encourage you to check out our Policy Forum. We created the Forum as a place for public policy practitioners to network, share best practices and discuss and learn from challenges and failures. To learn more about the Policy Forum, visit https://applied research.jhu.edu/policy-forum.