Think Tank School

Think Tank School

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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.


#Target Group
#Competence Profile & Learning Objectives
#Curriculum Overview
#Why Participate
#How To Apply


The Think Tank School is a unique training program that empowers the next generation of think tankers to further develop their skills for effective think tank work and expand their network in the German and international policy community. It is based on a competency framework that is specifically developed to reflect the variety of roles required of think tankers today. The Think Tank School combines different forms of learning that focus on the professional development of the fellows and support  knowledge transfer to the fellows’ organizations. 
The 2022 curriculum of the Think Tank School covers a period of six months and consists of four training modules conducted as in-person meetings in Berlin and Brussels as well as three self-organized project phases. In the training modules, think tankers, policy-makers, and trainers provide input on a range of topics such as policy analysis and advice, political communication, project management, and fundraising. In between the training modules, fellows apply the acquired knowledge to individual policy projects from their fields of expertise. During these self-organized project phases, biweekly community calls provide the fellows with feedback on their projects and additional input.

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.


The Think Tank School is a unique opportunity for early-stage think tankers to connect, network, and learn from each other on so many different levels!

Vittoria Meißner, Research Advisor, Institut für Europäische Politik


Target Group

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 two to five years of relevant professional experience. Career changers are also welcome to participate. We value diversity and strongly encourage underrepresented groups to apply. The 2022 cohort offers up to 15 spots. 

Competency Profile & Learning Objectives   

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 collaboration with think tankers and adult education experts, tested in our pilot cohort in 2021, and revised on the basis of the feedback we received. At the start of the Think Tank School, fellows set their own learning goals based on their previous experience and knowledge. 


After participating in the Think Tank School, the fellows will be able to: 

  • Critically reflect and consciously shape their own role in the democratic policy-making process;
  • Develop and implement innovative, target group-specific, and impact-oriented policy projects in the fields they are working on; 
  • Cooperate with other think-tankers and stakeholders for a common policy goal; and
  • Bring development impulses into their organizations.

Curriculum Overview

Please note that the program may be subject to change. 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 consists of a combination of four training modules, including a study trip, and three 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. Step-by-step, they develop and implement individual policy projects to address their chosen problems.     

Study Trip

The third module of the Think Tank School is a study trip to Brussels that gives the fellows the opportunity to get to know the political landscape in the EU capital, network with EU policy-makers, and gain new ideas for their own work (if the COVID-19 pandemic and possible travel restrictions allow). 

Peer Learning and Learning Exchanges

At the beginning of the Think Tank School, 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.


In order to get to know the needs of important stakeholders, get a look behind the scenes of real-life political processes, and broaden their own network, fellows will do shadowing in institutions relevant to their work, such as ministries, parliamentary offices, or media outlets. This shadowing can last from half a day to two weeks, depending on the availabilities of both fellows and host organizations.

Bi-weekly Community Calls

During the project phases, bi-weekly community calls are held online in which the fellows present their project progress and receive feedback from their peers. Expert webinars provide additional thematic input.

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 policy-makers, funders, and other key stakeholders from the think tank landscape.


Why Participate

For fellows: The Think Tank School provides you with a unique opportunity to both learn new skills 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, policy-makers, and think tank stakeholders to expand your professional network. After participating in the Think Tank School, all fellows will become members of the Bosch Alumni Network, a global platform that 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 is a practical way to systematically train and empower your think tank staff, gain insights into new approaches to think tank work, build your network with other think tanks, and provide a safe space to experiment with new forms and designs for projects. The transfer of knowledge from the School to your organization is a central component of the program.

How to Apply

To apply for a spot in the Think Tank School 2022, please read the call for applications carefully, fill out the online application form, and submit all supporting documentation by March 27, 2022.


Coming from a scientific background, the Think Tank School helped me to understand real-life policy problems and the role of think tanks in impacting the policy process. 

Camilla Oliveira, Project Manager, Agora Energiewende


Contact person


Fellows 2022
Policy Project: Pointing at the man behind the curtain: How to design convincing disinformation detection?
Policy Project: Registry of AI Systems Used by the German Public Sector
Policy Project: Integrated and universal social protection programmes to balance the impacts of the transition towards carbon neutral economies 
Policy Project: EU Migration Policy-making in Crisis Mode: Has the EU Found its Blueprint for the Future?
Policy Project: Electricity market design for a net-zero emissions electricity system
Policy Project: Identifying leeway for Germany's role in humanitarian reform processes
Policy Project: Cybersecurity as a challenge for outer space security
Policy Project: How does the international context of growing polarisation and tendencies towards self-sufficiency force the EU to adapt through a rethinking of its industrial, trade and competition policy?
Policy Project: Outlining a feminist digital policy: How can we make digital policy and tech regulation take societal risks into account and work in the public interest?
Policy Project: Reconciling the German economic model with security concerns
Policy Project: Mother Earth is sick of manels - The potential of Feminist Foreign Climate Policy and how it should be implemented by German foreign policy
Policy Project: France’s role and agenda in Africa-EU relations
Policy ProjectThe Future of the Internet: How might we need to adapt to a bifurcating cyberspace?
Policy Project: The role of health in the energy transition
Policy Project: Sustainable Tech: How might we make digital infrastructure (and AI as a new part of it) more sustainable?
Fellows 2021


Policy Project: Toward a New Storyline: Crafting a Transatlantic Narrative for Future Generations
Policy Project: The Circular Chemical Economy as a Carbon Sink
Policy Project: Digging for a Green Future: Securing Critical Raw Materials Supply Chains in the EU
Policy Project: Acting Out: Germany’s Engagement in the Indo-Pacific
Policy Project: Responding to China's (dis)information operations in Europe
Policy Project: Nordic Approaches to Comprehensive Security and Resilience: Lessons for Germany
Policy Project: How to strengthen trust in the expertise of think tanks in intercultural contexts: The example of Ukraine
Policy Project: EU strategic autonomy in security and defense: towards a new transatlantic bargain?
Policy Project: We are not ready yet: Europe from a German-Nordic-Baltic perspective
Policy Project: Foreign Cultural Policy in Difficult Contexts. How Can and Should Foreign Cultural Policy Be Carried Out in Difficult Contexts?
Policy Project: From Bibi to Bennett: Polarization of Israeli Society and Its Influence on Foreign Policy