School for Thinktankers 2022

Organised by On Think Tanks
Event type Courses
Location Online
Start date 24 January 2022
End date 11 February 2022

The School for Thinktankers 2022: a three-week programme 24 January – 11 February. Participants join the learning space daily from 12:30 GMT to 14:30 GMT.

The programme is designed to deepen your think tank knowledge and help you prepare for future leadership roles. It offers practical knowledge, learning opportunities and networks to help you and your think tank grow in core areas such as fundraising, communications, financial management, policy engagement and more.

Hear what former participants had to say about their experience


The School for Thinktankers is designed to prepare the next generation of think tank leaders. A think tank leader cannot rely solely on being a great researcher, they also must be managers, networkers, and communicators. Unfortunately, many researchers and think tankers do not get to build many of these skills during their careers; and by the time they are ready to take on leadership roles it is (almost) too late. The School for Thinktankers wants to remedy this problem by creating a space to learn about the many dimensions of working in, and leading, a policy research centre.

Taught by senior thinktankers and expert practitioners, the programme has a practical approach. It is designed to:

  • Prepare and inspire the next generation of think tank leaders
  • Build a community of emerging think tank leaders to support and learn from each other
  • Encourage participants to reflect on their own organisation and how to support its development

Programme and delivery

The School for Thinktankers is unique in the knowledge that participants acquire and the networks they build. The structure and delivery of the course has been planned to ensure learning and to maximise engagement between participants and facilitators.

The School for Thinktankers 2022 will cover the following:

  • Think tanks and evidence-informed policy
  • Governance and management
  • Policy relevant research
  • Communications
  • Fundraising and financial management
  • Monitoring, evaluation, and learning
  • Cross-cutting issues (included through the course): setting up a think tank, transparency, and credibility in think tanks etc.

What do we offer?

The programme includes:

  • How-to videos. 15-minute pre-recorded lectures  delivered by experts in the field and structured to convey information and explain an issue, emphasising good practice on how to approach the issue. Here is a sneak peek of what you can expect from the how-to videos.
  • Live sessions. Two-hour sessions with experienced thinktankers. Presenters will give a presentation and engage in a dialogue where participants can ask specific questions, engage with experts, and discuss with their peers.
  • Networking activities. Embedded in the programme are networking activities for participants to get to know each other, the experts, and facilitators.
  • Background materials. Participants will receive a background note and a reading list for each module.
  • Discussion with peers and experts. Through a dedicated platform and during the live sessions participants will engage in guided discussions to enhance their practice and knowledge.

At the end of the training, participants who have successfully completed the course will receive a certificate. The criteria to receive this certificate includes: attending 10 live sessions and engaging in peer discussions in at least four of the modules.

Our approach

Our approach focuses on learning by doing, with real case studies, in a collaborative environment. The School for Thinktankers:

  • Is based on evidence. It draws on adult learning theories and builds on lessons learnt during our work and previous experiences delivering training.
  • Encourages participants to collectively bring and reflect critically on their experience, and on the lessons and experiences shared in the programme.
  • Helps participants to address and propose solutions for ongoing professional issues.
  • Provides participants with new tools to try new approaches in their workplace.
  • Promotes engagement between participants, trainers, and course facilitators to build a community of learning, acknowledging that learning and professional growth is usually a social process in which conversation and feedback are vital.
  • Enables participants to receive individual guidance and supervision from experienced thinktankers coming from a range of backgrounds and social contexts.
  • Provides learning materials in various formats as well as actionable outputs, which participants can adapt and use in their organisations.


Trainers include directors and former directors at leading think tanks. In previous editions we have had trainers from the Overseas Development InstituteChatham HouseforausThe Graduate InstituteBelgrade Center for Security Studies and Centre for Economic Policy ResearchSee the list of our past lecturers.

 For 2022, speakers and trainers will include:

This list will continue to be updated.

What do past participants say?

(I liked most) “The diversity of the participants, and the dialogue that was established.” 2019 participant

“I liked the richness and breadth of content covered as well as the opportunity to network with leaders from across the world.” 2019 participant

(I attended the School for Thinkankers because) “I wanted to learn how to grow a young think thank and have a comprehensive understanding of what is needed to run it properly. I believe I received exactly the type of information I wanted.” 2020 participant

(I liked most the) “illuminating content, really great connections and perspectives from such a diverse group of participants.” 2020 participant

“I felt it was a very well thought out agenda with great speakers! So much expertise from the speakers but also from the participants in the group. Would recommend to others!”.” 2020 participant

“It was a very comprehensive discussion, and I will highly recommend the school to my peers” 2021 participant

“The content is rich, systematic, thorough and very well planned; Great added value, not the kind of knowledge that you traditionally get to learn in the regular academic training.” 2021 participant

You can see the profiles of previous participants here.

Can I apply?

We welcome thinktankers from around the world, working in all think tank roles, including in research, fundraising, communications, project management or human resources.

The course is designed for early and mid-career thinktankers, aspiring to future leadership roles. But we also welcome policy entrepreneurs interested in setting up their own think tank, recent graduates or experienced thinktankers who are perhaps moving into leadership positions or facing a particular challenge

Applications for the 2022 edition have closed. If you are interested in the School for Thinktankers and want to register your interest to attend the next edition please complete this form and we will get back to you when the next edition launches.


The 2021 School for Thinktankers costs USD950 + which covers:

  • Three-week online programme with 30 hours of live training.
  • An online study pack.
  • Access to an online forum for fellow participants, alumni and OTT School experts and team.
  • Diploma upon completion of a personal learning journal.
  • Access to the OTT Fellows and Alumni network.

We offer 5% discount to organisations that send two participants, and 10% for those that send three or more.

In this edition we offered 3 scholarships for individuals that were not sponsored by their organisations, but they have already been awarded.

Applications  for the 2022 have closed

Applications for the 2022 edition have closed. If you are interested in the School for Thinktankers and want to register your interest to attend the next edition please complete this form and we will get back to you when the next edition launches.