Learnings from the WinterSchool for Thinktankers and the OTT Conference

21 June 2019

I had the honor of representing CRES at two major events that took place in Geneva: the WinterSchool for Thinktankers and the On Think Tanks conference.

The WinterSchool for Thinktankers hosted 24 young people including 10 Fellows from the OTT-TTI Fellowship Programme, supported by the Think Tank Initiative (TTI) in collaboration with On Think tanks (OTT), to ensure the sustainability of its action to support the thinks tanks. The 10 Fellows are from Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, India, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Senegal. Organized from January 27 to February 2, 2019, the goal of the WinterSchool is to build the capacity of future leaders of national think tanks by helping them with their professional development within their institutions and their communities.

Beyond this general objective, the WinterSchool has the following specific objectives:

  • Contribute to the performance of the participants’ thinks tanks
  • Create learning networks by capitalizing experiences and good practices in other thinks tanks
  • Offer emerging leaders a chance to contribute to the development of future generations of leaders

The WinterSchool included a very rich program in the main operational areas of think tanks. The topics covered by this program include governance and management, monitoring and evaluation, communication, fundraising, and financial management.

The training modules were developed through powerpoint presentations, teamwork, case studies, round tables, scenarios, and guided tours. These empowered us in different fields of expertise which will be not only essential in our professional life but also in our social life.

Reflecting on the WinterSchool, I can only encourage this kind of meetings between young researchers and leading experts. These meetings, it seems to me, are be the best way to strengthen young thinktankers’ capacities on specific topics, to prepare them to take on more senior roles in their think tanks and encourage more people to join think tanks – which will then lead to their sustainability.

The On Think Tanks 2019 Conference was held from 5 to 6 February 2019 at the Think Tank Hub in Geneva with the participation of think tank leaders, policy entrepreneurs, funders, and think tank experts who are interested in the critical treatment of the think tank label and the opportunities and challenges these organizations face. Four of the OTT-TTI Fellows, who participated in the 2019 WinterSchool the week before, represented their institutions at the conference. The meeting aimed to establish a dialogue between think tank experts, researchers, policy entrepreneurs and donors around the world to better address the challenges observed in different think tank’s intervention areas.

It was an opportunity for these organizations to present new research on think tanks or evidence-informed policy and to solicit input from other participants, to gain their help or support to meet the challenges they face. The meeting also provided an opportunity to explore new avenues of collaboration and to forge new partnerships on funding and collaborative research issues through webinars, workshops, conferences, and more.

These dialogues can only be beneficial because they are platforms for exchange, working in a kind of synergy that promotes the sharing of experiences, the establishment of partnerships and influencing opportunities that strengthen the capacities of these organizations in their research activities.