OTT Conference 2020: the 2nd online event

Organised by On Think Tanks, DGAP
Event type Event
Location Online
Start date 23 June 2020
End date 25 June 2020

We had to postpone the face-to-face OTT Conference 2020 in Berlin, but we do not want to miss the opportunity to connect with our colleagues and friends from around the world. In the past few months we’ve seen a lot of events move to online spaces. There are lots of great recommendations to do this and, after a pilot back in March, we’ve decided to run at least two more online events in 2020.  While we will not be replacing our yearly face-to-face event, we feel that incorporating a digital spaces to meet will allow us to meet more often and be joined by those who cannot travel every year.

We think this platform might offer what we need but we want learn to use it to its fullest. If you want to join and learn with us, please sign up!

Below you will find the schedule for the second event of the OTT 2020 Conference, in CEST time.

Find out more about the OTT Conference 2020: 1st event here

Find out more about our conferences here

Day 1: 23 June

13:00 – 15:00
Academic session

Panel: Diversity, inequality and representation in think tanks

  • Toward an epistemic evaluation of think tank ecosystems: the case of epistemic justice by Andréanne Veillette, Amandine Catala and François Claveau
  • Diversity and economic inequality in think tanks by Marcos Gonzales and Isabel Borja
  • Commentary by Ajoy Datta

Presentation: Foreign funding and transparency, by Ben Freeman  (Center for International Policy)

Participatory session: An agenda for think tank research

15:30 – 17:00
Public event
Funding for think tanks: lessons from initiatives to support think tanks and implications for the future

  • Goran Buldioski (Open Society Foundations)
  • Julie LaFrance (former member of the Think Tank Initiative team)
  • Michael Schwarz (Stiftung Mercator)
  • Henry Alt-Haaker (Robert Bosch Foundation)
  • Renata Skardziute-Kereselidze (GIP)
  • Moderator: Enrique Mendizabal (On Think Tanks)
This event will address:
  • What have we learned from supporting think tanks over the long-term?
  • What funding policies, approaches and mechanisms have been more effective to develop think tanks’ competencies or their influence on policy processes in the long term?
  • What does the current COVID-19 context mean for funding for think tanks?
  • How can funders better support think tanks in the future – with an eye to guaranteeing their resilience?

This session will be streamed so that a wider public may join in.

17:00 – 17:30
Networking session

17:30 – onwards
Platform remains open for networking and informal meetings in coffee rooms.

Day 2: 24 June

14:30 – 15:00

Varoon Bashyakarla from Tactical Tech on data and politics

Networking session

15:30 – 17:00
Parallel sessions

Parallel 1: How does change happen?

Is it time for think tanks and their funders to rethink their understanding of and approaches to change? This session will explore the theories and experiences that underpin the different ways in which organisations try to bring about change at the global, national and local leve. The session is convened by Jessica White (The RSA – London), Jeff Knezovich (WHO – Geneva) and Memory Kachambwa (Femnet – Harare)

Parallel 2: Doing research

Think tanks are part of national (as well as regional and international) research systems and broader political policy regimes. The practice of their work is therefore significantly influenced by the broader research practice. Drawing from the Global Development Network’s Doing Research programme in Indonesia, Bolivia, Nigeria and Myanmar, this session will inquire how different research systems condition the nature of think tanks and affect their development. This session is convened by Francesco Obino (GDN) with the participation of Sharim Ribeira (CERES), Jana Rue Glutting (CESD), Zaw Oo, (CESD), Ngu Wah Win (CESD), Adedayo Olufunso James (NACETEM), Abiodun Ebbetokun (NACETEM).

  • Is there a visible research agenda around COVID taking shape in your country? What does it focus on? Who is leading it?
  • What role are think tanks playing in the pandemic response? What aspects of the overall capacity of your country’s research system and evidence-informed space has been highlighted through the last months of pandemic response, including international research collaborations? Has the crisis affected think tanks and their capacity (writ large) in the same way as other policy research organisations? (Has funding shifted?)
  • Is there a specific research agenda think tanks are better placed to take forward? Why?

Parallel 3: People, people, people

The results from the 1st survey of think tanks on the effects of COVID-19 suggest that money and people are at the top of think tanks’ concerns. While funding is the top concern, the second is staff stress and the third is productivity loss. And this is exacerbated by sudden changes to researchers’ research agendas, difficulties with remote working, and illness in the immediate family of staff members. In this session we hope to explore how the crisis is affecting think tanks’ most important asset: their people – full time staff, associates and volunteers. We will also share and consider useful strategies and tactics adopted by think tanks to help their staff to cope with the crisis. A critical question underpins this session: how should think tanks business models change to be always better capable of taking care of their staff? This session will be convened by Sulamba Shaban (STIPRO – Dar es Salaam), Wailea Zuelch (foraus – Zurich) and Milena Gaitán (Fundación Ideas para la Paz – Bogotá).

17:00 – 17:30
Recap and next steps

17:30 – onwards
Platform remains open for networking and informal meetings in coffee rooms.

Day 3: 25 June

14:30 – 15:00
Keynote 2
Julia Pomares, from CIPPEC, on the future of politics

15:00 – 15:30
Networking session

15:30 – 17:00
Parallel sessions

Parallel 4:  State capture and think tanks

Several regions of the world are facing a new context in which a few people in power are using legal means to concentrate greater power and resources for their private gain. The COVID-19 crisis, and the response of governments, has contributed to close the civic space further in many countries. This is an early finding of the 1st survey of think tanks on the effects of COVID-19. This session is convened by Sonja Stojanovic Gajic (BCSP – Belgrade) who will invite participants to join a new Community of Practice on state capture and think tanks.

Parallel 5: Beyond crisis management- adapting your impact strategy through organisational learning

This session as a cooperation between the web series on #DigitalThinkTanking (hosted by DGAP, WonkComms and Soapbox) and the OTT Conference. Many Think Tanks have had to adapt their work considerably due to the pandemic and the lockdown. Changes include the introduction of remote work for staff, changing the research focus to account for recent political developments, translating face-to-face activities into online formats or postponing them until further notice, amongst others. The changed circumstances offer new opportunities, but also challenges with regard to the impact we can have on our audiences and on policy processes and outcomes. How can we know what our audiences need now, what impact we have on them and on policy?

In this session, we want to discuss how to monitor progress on and changes to our impact strategies in this special time, how we can use the crisis as a moment for organisational learning and adaptive management to become more resilient in the future – and how to do all this remotely. This session, convened by Dena Lomosfky (Southern Hemisphere) and Claire Luzia Leifert (German Council on Foreign Relations – DGAP), aims to launch a new Community of Practice on Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) for think tanks.

Parallel 6: TBC

17:00 – 17:30
Recap and close

17:30 – onwards
Platform remains open for networking and informal meetings in coffee rooms.

Throughout the conference

During the online event there will be several spaces ‘open’ for participants to engage. These include:

  • Booths for partners to showcase recent work or projects
  • A networking space which randomly connects participants to each other – why not make new friends?
  • ‘Coffee rooms’ for participants to meet is smaller groups and discuss an issue of common interest
  • Chat function for the whole event which will allow participants to share resources with each other – including through direct messaging

This event is possible thanks to the support from the Hewlett Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, Mercator Stiftung, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, Universidad del Pacífico and Soapbox.

How to register?

Click on Book Event below.