The World Policy Institute is a think tank dedicated to coming up with strategic solutions to global problems.  Specifically they seek solutions to challenges that “cannot be solved from traditional ‘foreign-versus-domestic’ boxes”.  Indeed they deliver on addressing a multitude of issues, reporting on issues from the state of Serbia and Kosovo to the impending global water shortage, specifically as it relates to energy usage and needs.  The think tank employs around 30 people who research and write on these topics.  The organization has been privately funded since its founding in 1961.

For me, the question on what type of think tank I would like to work for is really asking: To whom would I prefer to answer?  It seems to me that the distinguishing feature of the different types is how they are funded and therefore what sort of bias is going to be expected of your work.  I obviously would prefer to have the freedom to make arguments based solely on my research and understanding of materials and would want to work for the type of think tank that would not demand “input” towards my work.  This rules out the government funded one as far as I am concerned.  I would therefore either want to work for a privately funded think tank or university, but I honestly do not know which would grant me more freedom.

If I could create my own think tank which would focus on any topic I would choose education.  My interest in education has been growing and I believe that there are many issues surrounding education which would be extremely interesting and beneficial to research.  One issue that interests me is human rights surrounding education.  I wonder exactly what degree of education should be guaranteed?  What degree should be compulsory? Do these change depending on the environment/culture?  I am also interested to know more about how education is currently delivered according to the country and region and what learnings can be gathered from the best practices.  I would also want to better understand the state of education inequalities both in the U.S. and other countries and better understand how education resources could/should be allocated.  I am also interested in non-formal education such as the way cultures socialize their children and imbue moral principles upon them.  I would like to also understand how education takes place over a lifetime.  I think most of us have experience of being taught shortcuts early in our education before we are ready to understand more complex theories.  (I was taught to use a comma whenever I would pause for a breath, which I later found out is not truly a good rule)  I am interested if practices such as this one have lasting effects especially when it comes to education about social norms and morality.


4 responses »

  1. Sarah says:

    I think Jim makes a good point when thinking about which think tank would be best to work for. I too would want to have the freedom to explore whatever issues I found interesting and be able to say whatever I felt without worrying about upsetting the people funding the think tank. However unless I am planning to fund my own think tank, think tanks will always have to answer to someone. I wonder if there are any think tanks that are completely free to do whatever they want. Surely there must be some rich billionaires funding a think tank and allowing them to do whatever they want. If there are no think tanks that are completely unbiased and unattached then the information presented by all think tanks will always be slightly skewed based on whoever funds the specific tank.

  2. brookeparker16 says:

    Sarah, your comment reminds of something Jordi said on one of our first days of class. It a question about whether any piece of writing can be 100% unbiased. At first I just assumed that at least some research could be unbiased but now I am not so sure. I feel like not only is it impossible for your emotions to not go to into your work but, like you said, you’ll always have someone to answer to. I mean look at the media; it is all biased one way or other. Even though this new realization makes me someone skeptical of even the purest think tanks, I guess you just have at many to find the truth.

  3. Marko says:

    Hey Jim, considering your wish to explore education inequalities i can tell you United States is definitely top 10 countries with huge education inequality. Premium education in US is simply not available to everyone. For example, I transferred to Bucknell from small community college in Maryland. Speaking about diversity (20% black students, 20% hispanic, 15% asian, 40% white and 5% other races). You know, it almost resembled the true diversity across US. However, than I transferred to “elite” Bucknell University which just happened to have 90% white students. Coincidence? Not really, it is well known that premium universities in US are usually available only to those who can afford them.
    And before you say Marko is socialist (lol), it is really true that many European countries made their education greatly affordable, if not free, for the majority of their population.

  4. […] Best Idea for a Think Tank: Jim – World Policy Institute […]

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