How do you get influential decision-makers to read your research? Make it palatable.


IHDP, a social science research programme, needed a platform to bring its thinking into the hands and minds of global policy makers. Scientists usually defer to dryly-written policy briefs and white papers to share their ideas. We chose to grab their attention with a publication that was made to actually be consumed, Dimensions, a visually and intellectual palatable magazine.

No bad content.

Our communications team built Dimensions from scratch, using the intellectual content from IHDP’s research network. Our secret to success: banning boring content. Our editor coached the authors (who were accustomed to writing academic papers) through the process of writing for laymen. My work went far beyond the façade. I was knee deep in each issue’s theme. I translated every article into compelling visuals (often custom illustrations). Based on what I’d learned in the editorial meetings, I compiled infographics and editorial cartoons for every issue, summarizing and throwing a critical light on the topics at hand.

Into the right hands.

Building a great product is futile without distribution. We chose our themes, and timed each issue’s release to coincide with major environmental conferences. Overall, we handed out thousands of issues. And Dimensions was downloaded twice as often as the academic publication series it replaced.


Graphic design and design strategy


Carmen Scherkenbach, Anne-Kathrin Raab

International Human Dimensions Programme, at the United Nations University