Think Tank Lab
Think Tanks in Times of Disruptive Change
Our world is changing rapidly. In disruptive and uncertain times, the need for the orientation that think tanks provide increases. However, trust in experts is decreasing and “alternative facts” travel faster than profound analyses. With public discourse polarized, constructive dialogue across political camps has become more necessary – and more difficult. While the pandemic has highlighted the need for cross-sectoral cooperation on society’s biggest challenges, it has simultaneously reduced the opportunities for personal exchange dramatically. In the past year, much of the work that think tanks do has moved online, allowing us to reach wider audiences but also giving rise to information overload.
Such complexity has made think tank work more demanding yet more important than ever. For think tanks to adapt to these new circumstances and fulfill their collective responsibility to inform policy-making processes to the best possible extent, they need to continually rethink how to leverage their potential and add value to the democratic policy process. To achieve this, think tanks must burst the filter bubble, foster diversity and controversy, and systematically develop their staff and organizations. Moreover, they must address the continual challenge of finding new and effective modes of engagement with policy-makers and the public.
To achieve this, think tanks need to venture on new paths and learn from each other.
The Think Tank Lab aims to help think tanks realize these ambitions.
The Think Tank Lab supports the co-creative advancement of the German think tank landscape with targeted activities in three areas:
- Strengthening peer learning and cooperation in and between think tanks
- Offering training to think tank employees
- Crowdsourcing good practices and testing new approaches to impact-oriented think tank work
While, initially, our activities are primarily aimed at think tanks and policy-oriented research institutes based in Germany, we also seek to promote exchange with the wider European and international think tank community.
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The Think Tank Lab is a project of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) and the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS). It is kindly supported by the Stiftung Mercator and the Robert Bosch Stiftung.