Think Tank School
We believe that helping think tank staff exploit their full potential is key to delivering innovative analysis and actionable advice. To empower the next generation of think tankers, we offer a training program for early-career think tank staff. While the participants continue to work in their respective organizations, the program supports them in developing their skillset for effective think tank work and broadening their network in the German and international think tank community.
The Think Tank School is a unique training program that empowers the next generation of Germany-based think tankers by expanding their skills and networks to increase the impact of their work. It is built on a holistic competency framework reflecting the variety of roles required of think tankers today. The four-month curriculum of the 2021 pilot cohort consists of three training modules on topics such as policy analysis and advice, political communication, and public engagement as well as project management and fundraising. In between the training modules, fellows apply the acquired knowledge to individual policy projects from their fields of expertise. All training modules are scheduled as in-person sessions in Berlin and Brussels. During the self-organized project phases, weekly community calls support the fellows with the implementation of their projects and provide additional input. The Think Tank School combines different forms of learning that put the professional development of the fellows at the center and support the knowledge transfer to the fellows’ organizations.
The Think Tank School is an offer of the Think Tank Lab, 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.
Please note: If the Covid-19 Pandemic does not allow for in-person meetings, all training, including the study trip, will be conducted online (or in a hybrid model). The program may be subject to change.
The Think Tank School is open to think tank employees who work in the research department of a think tank based in Germany and have 2-5 years of relevant professional experience. Career changers are also welcome to participate. We strongly encourage underrepresented groups to apply. The 2021 pilot cohort offers 12 spots.
The Think Tank School is based on a holistic understanding of competencies as a combination of knowledge, skills, and attitudes. The topics covered in the Think Tank School are based on our competency framework that was developed in conversation with think tankers and adult education experts. At the beginning of the Think Tank School, the fellows set their own learning goals based on their previous experience and knowledge.
After participating in the Think Tank School, the fellows will have the competencies to:
- critically reflect and consciously shape their own role in the democratic policy-making process,
- initiate innovative, target group-oriented and impact-oriented policy projects in the focus areas they are working on,
- cooperate with other think-tankers and stakeholders for a common policy goal, and
- bring development impulses into their organizations.
The Think Tank School combines different forms of learning that maximize engagement between participants, trainers, and policymakers, and put the professional development of the fellows at the center. Please note that the program may be subject to change.
The Think Tank School consists of a combination of three training modules, including a study trip, and two practical and self-organized project phases.
- Training Modules
In interactive seminars, experts provide practical knowledge, tools, and key frameworks for innovative and impactful think tank work. The fellows are encouraged to translate these concepts into their own work environments.
- Policy Projects
All fellows apply to the Think Tank School with a policy problem that they would like to work on during the School or are already working on in their everyday work. During the School, they apply the newly acquired tools to their policy problem and develop individual policy projects to tackle the chosen problems.
- Study Trip
The training includes a study trip to Brussels to get to know the political landscape in the EU capital, network with EU policy-makers and gain ideas and inspiration for one's own work (if the Covid-19 pandemic and possible travel restrictions allow).
- Peer Learning and Learning Exchanges
At the beginning of the training, fellows form tandems in which they advise and accompany each other in the implementation of their policy projects. Through peer coaching formats they are enabled to support each other professionally. In addition, self-organized work visits to the organizations of other program participants are encouraged.
- Community Calls
During the project phases, weekly community calls are held online where the fellows present their project progress. In addition, thematic inputs are provided by experts every other week.
- Networking Activities
Throughout the program, networking activities and social events take place for the fellows to get to know each other, as well as to connect and exchange ideas with policymakers, funders, and other key stakeholders from the think tank landscape.
For fellows, the Think Tank School provides a unique opportunity to both learn new skills and practices and to apply and test those skills in the context of your policy project. You will receive guidance and feedback to design and implement an innovative and effective policy project. In addition, you will be able to meet and network with peers, policymakers, and think tank stakeholders, to expand your professional network. After participation in the Think Tank School, fellows will become members of the Bosch Alumni Network, a global platform which brings together around 7,500 former and current fellows, grantees and employees of the Robert Bosch Stiftung and its partners, as well as MercatorGlobe, the alumni network of Stiftung Mercator.
For organizations, the Think Tank School offers an applied way to systematically train and empower your think tank staff, provide a safe space to try out new methods as well as gain insights into new approaches to think tank work. The transfer of knowledge from the School to the organizations is a central component of the program.
- Fellows 2021/2022
Anne Flotho-Liersch, Program Coordinator, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
Project: Civic Education Against Populist Authoritarianism
Camilla Oliveira, Project Manager Industry, Agora Energiewende
Project: Climate positive chemistry
Viktoria Reisch, Research Assistant, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)
Project: Digging for a green future: Securing critical raw materials supply chains in the EU
Beryl Thomas, Visiting Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations
Project: From 5G Forward: Europe and the Transatlantic Tech Relationship
Grzegorz Stec, EU-China Analyst, MERICS
Project: Responding to China's (dis)information operations in Europe
Serafine Dinkel, Project Assistant, German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
Project: Human Security Starts at Home
Ljudmyla Melnyk, Senior Project Manager/Research Associate, Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP Berlin)
Project: Think Tanks as Policy-Making Actors in Ukraine
Iulian Romanyshyn, Charlemagne Prize Fellow, Center for Advanced Security, Strategic and Integration Studies, University of Bonn
Project: EU strategic autonomy in security and defense: towards a new transatlantic bargain?
Vittoria Meißner, Reseach Advisor, IEP
Project: Challenges to democracy in Europe from a German-Nordic-Baltic perspective
Anja Schön. Programmmitarbeiterin Forschungsprogramm, ifa
Project: Foreign Cultural Policy in Difficult Contexts. How can and should foreign cultural policy be carried out in difficult contexts?
Lidia Averbukh, Researcher, SWP
Project: From Bibi to Bennett: Polarization of Israeli society and its influence on foreign policy