The think tank that I chose to explore was the Institute for Social Research out of the University of Michigan. The ISR focuses its study on social science related to modern topics today such as voting, drug and alcohol abuse, consumer confidence, health and economic status etc. It “serves as a telescope on society, bringing the attitudes and behavior of people into clearer focus.” Their goal is to promote an environment that allows and encourages scientists and students to conduct research without obstacles or opposition, to produce the highest quality research possible. One study they were conducting that I found interesting was teachers and parents continue to hold a strong presence in the education of most adolescents. Even though young people are becoming increasingly independent and autonomous, they seek the advice of their parents and teachers as opposed to the advice of their peers.
I think the reason why I liked this think tank as opposed to others that I looked at was because the research is focused on social topics relevant to our lives today. I’m not all that interested in international affairs, policies and politics that many of the other think tanks were about, so one that is related to society and social science is one that I will be most naturally inclined to. The benefit of having a think tank entirely devoted to society and social science is that there is no limit for what you want to explore. There’s a bunch of projects on the site that I looked into, and I think another great thing about this is that I became much more aware of studies and causes that I didn’t know about previously.
If I were to work for any of these think tanks, I think I would most like to work at a think tank that was privately funded through grants and donations. I think that you would have the most freedom with your research if you were to work for a private think tank, and the only outside members that you would have to be reliable and accountable for would be your benefactors funding the project. You would be free to focus on whatever kind of research you wanted to with little opposition or pressure to produce relevant and impactful findings. Instead of your research turning political or bureaucratic, it can be exactly what it is; research.
I personally would be most interested in doing research on social science and culture; exploring topics that are relevant to today. Similar to the research conducted at the ISR from Michigan, I would be interested in researching topics such as the different social and economic status that exists in American life.