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).


Guiding Principles:

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.

Mutual Benefits:

EPILab is meant to be mutually beneficial to both EPI (especially its students) and external partners.


For Potential Partners

Opportunities and Services:

  1. Sharing the established expertise of faculty innovators as advice or guidance (i.e. consulting).
  2. Providing research services and research collaboration.
    • literature reviews
    • jurisdictional scans
    • document reviews
    • systematic evidence collection
    • policy evaluations
    • stakeholder perspectives (surveys, interviews, focus groups)
  3. Utilizing software to assist with policy thinking.
    • content analysis (e.g. NVivo)
    • geographic information systems (e.g. ArcMap)
    • social network analysis (e.g. NodeXL)
    • causal mapping (e.g. STELLA)
    • scenario analysis (e.g. HIVE)
    • infographics (e.g. piktochart)
  4. Facilitating workshops and planning sessions around policy solutions and approaches.
    • persona development (i.e. user characterization)
    • design sprints (i.e. the diverge-emerge-converge model)
    • system modelling
    • prototyping, testing, and experimenting
    • challenging current understandings and perceptions
  5. Connecting partners to other faculty, services, and programs at MUN (and to other partners).
    • g. EPI is connected to the natural sciences through its association with Grenfell’s School of Science and Environment
  6. Delivering access to the content of scholarly literature through summaries and synthesis.
  7. Offering methodological support for partners conducting their own research projects.


While much of EPILab’s activities are likely to be “ad-hoc” or “one-off”, certain partnered arrangements around the above opportunities and services will be treated as formal projects. Such projects will vary by whether they are short-term (i.e. days to weeks) or long-term (months to years), whether they are service-oriented (i.e. where EPILab does work requested by the partner) or co-productive (i.e. where EPILab and the partner collaborate throughout), and whether the details of the project are even known at the outset or not (i.e. open-ended projects).

Regardless of its type, any formal project should be based on a written agreement between the partners, which could be as short as one page for simple projects. This agreement should specify, at minimum:

  • the partner organizations and their respective project leads or liaisons
  • a basic title and description of the project
  • the specific tasks required as well as an indication of who will carry them out
  • estimated costs and whether additional funding will be necessary
    • if so, either provided by a partner at the outset or applied for as an initial task
    • funding is more likely to be necessary for long-term projects
  • a proposed timeline or list of milestones
  • an estimation of outputs, specifying how each partner (and society) will benefit
    • g. EPI is a research institute and thus benefits from research-related outputs
    • but the focus here is still primarily on benefits to the partner and society