At the end of the last class, we discussed Think Tanks and how they might be a useful  resource for us.  For a brief overview of what a think tank is, you might want to look over the Wikipedia entry on think tanks.  One example we were shown in class was the Harvard Kennedy School think tank which is a list of good think tanks.

Although there are lots of variations of think tanks, in general, by looking at who funds the think tank, we can arrive at three types.

1. Country / Government/International Governance (Examples: Government Accounting Office [GAO], which is a great resource, or UN Research Institute for Social Development)

2. Privately (as in, a private, charitable foundation funds it OR it is funded through grants and donations.  For example, the Economic Policy Institute, who made the “State of Working America” Report we read, explains there funding here)

3. University / Research funded (This can get tricky as the funding may originally come from taxes or grants, but we can worry about how the expenditures are directed which is what matters anyway).

Each think tank generally serves to conduct research and by this process engage in advocacy for their topic or topics.

For this week:

A) Using our think tank resources, find one that fits into one of the tree types.  What can you learn about it/  What kind of work do they do?  What does their web site or other publications convey about the think tank.

B) Using what you learn from A, directly or indirectly, imagine you work for any one of these three categories.  Which category would you choose to work for and why?

C) Imagine you can create a think tank to explore any issue or topic and engage in advocacy. What topic or issue would you focus your new toy on?  Which category would it be? Why?

What EPI says about their funding on their web page:

Who supports us.  EPI is a 501(c)(3) corporation. In 2005 through 2009, a majority of our funding (about 53%) was in the form of foundation grants, while another 29% came from labor unions. EPI also receives support from individuals, corporations, and other organizations.


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