“Engaged policy” is a concept derived from renowned Buddhist teacher Thích Nhất Hạnh, a contemporary of Martin Luther King, who originated the term, "engaged Buddhism." The latter is a compassion-based framework for social change that asks Buddhists to be more involved in the social and political realm than they had been previously. His influence has been far reaching, to say the least.
Similarly, engaged policy asks those of us with privilege to "put our work to work" and make our research and knowledge matter in the educational, social, political, and legislative realms. Moreover, if we are truly engaged, our involvement isn't episodic in nature, but rather prolonged such that engaged policy becomes a way of life with those around us with whom we have a shared sense of fate.
Many lament, myself included, that much of the research and knowledge generated either from local communities or university researchers ends up on a shelf or somewhere in cyberspace: It does not find its way either into policy making discourses or well-defined policy or community agendas for social change.
All too often we work in an isolated fashion, even tragically disconnected from policy making processes that could even actually have direct bearing on our well being and livelihood within the academy. We end up being objects, rather than subjects, of social change—bereft of any imagination of the possible.
I draw inspiration from Chicana feminist scholars like the late Gloria Anzaldúa, Cherie Moraga, and Aída Hurtado who articulate the presence of a "politics of urgency" that often defines us. Inéz Hernandez-Avila similarly notes how an effective educational experience gives, rather than takes away, our "fightback." Feminists of color commonly deal with the motivations to produce knowledge from this standpoint which is closely tied to a commitment to being agents of transformational change.
For more elaboration on engaged policy, you can read here. Otherwise, I simply offer an array of images from my own life experiment with it that I think convey just how people-intensive and multifaceted it is.
Engaged Buddhism is just Buddhism. When bombs begin to fall on people, you cannot stay in the meditation hall all of the time. Meditation is about the awareness of what is going on-not only in your body and in your feelings, but all around you.