Winterschool for Thinktankers 2019 – Geneva

Event type Courses
Start date 27 January 2019
End date 2 February 2019

The Winterschool for Thinktankers is a unique opportunity for young and proactive individuals to develop their knowledge and understanding of think tanks and to prepare themselves to become future policy entrepreneurs.

Think tanks play a crucial role in policy making and in strengthening democratic processes by informing and enriching the public debate. Maintaining an active and dynamic community of think tanks and supporting the creation of new ones is highly important for democratic governance and sustainable development.

To be a successful think tank leader one cannot rely on being just a great researcher and intellectual; leaders have to be excellent managers, political strategists, great communicators, and prolific networkers.

The Winterschool

During this 7-day programme in Geneva (January 27 – February 2, 2019) you will acquire the tools and knowledge to prepare yourself to become a policy entrepreneur. You will also learn from prestigious experts who will share their expertise. You will have the chance to discuss and engage with these experts, plus other future think tank leaders from around the world.  Additionally, and as Geneva hosts a unique wealth of international organisations and networks, you will have the chance to discover some of the key actors of global governance that are based there.

The Winterschool for Thinktankers is primarily focused on thinktankers, researchers and practitioners interested in engaging with and informing international policy agendas. However, anyone interests in evidence informed policy is welcome to apply.

The Winterschool programme will focus on the following core areas related to think tanks:

  • Governance and management for think tanks
  • Development of a proactive and policy relevant research agenda
  • Communication strategies
  • Fundraising, financial management, and accountability
  • Monitoring, evaluation, and learning of policy influence for the continuous strengthening of the think tank.

The mornings will be dedicated to lectures and guided groupwork from think tank experts from around the world.

In the afternoon, we will visit key organisations in Geneva to experience how theories are implemented by some of the most influential stakeholders of international politics.


The list of confirmed lecturers includes renowned experts and organisations such as:

  • Simon Maxwell: former Executive Director of the Overseas Development Institute
  • Melanie Rayment: Social Designer and Strategist , On Think Tanks Associate.
  • Stephen Yeo: On Think Tanks Adviser at Large and former Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
  • Sonja Stojanovic Galic: Director of Belgrade Center for Security Studies
  • Enrique Mendizabal: Founder of On Think Tanks
  • Keith Burnet:   Director of Communications & Publishing, Chatham House
  • Francesco Pisano; Chief, United Nations Office at Geneva Library
  • Marc-Andre Pradervand: Fundraiser
  • Thomas Biersteker: Director of Programme for the Study of International Governance, The Graduate Institute

The programme

You can read up a draft version of the programme here.

The Winterschool will be delivered in English.

Why Geneva?

Geneva is home to 34 International Organisations, permanent representations of 175 countries and hundreds of NGOs, with numerous daily events on the most pressing global affairs. Moreover, Geneva is a city where ideas are generated and global governance is shaped, hence an excellent place for you to learn and network.

Who is this for?

The programme is designed for early career thinktankers as well as recent graduates or postgraduate students from developed and developing countries with prior experience working in think tanks or with the clear intention of creating one themselves. They may be early career researchers, communicators or managers.

This is a unique opportunity as it will be based on an intensive interactive teaching method, where the participants must promote critical thinking amongst them in order to achieve the best results. We want you to learn by challenging ideas, and learn to think outside of the box!

Our goal is that you get inspiration and practical tools for your professional development as well as unique networking opportunities. Throughout the week, we will organise various networking gatherings, several visits to the UN and other international agencies, as well as city tours so that you can experience Geneva at its fullest.

You will receive a certified diploma after the completion of the Winterschool.

Application and cost

The inscription cost is of 1000 CHF and covers the lectures, all background materials and literature, access to an online platform which allows participants to interact with each other and the speakers, and lunch during the School in Geneva.

If you are planning to travel to and stay in Geneva you will have to make your own arrangements. All participants will have to cover their own travel and accommodation to Geneva (if they are not already based in the city).

If you have any questions, please contact: [email protected] [email protected]

APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED, but if you are interested in participating in a following edition of the winterschool please complete this form and we will contact you in October 2019

Who is behind the Winterschool for Thinktankers?

The Winterschool for Thinktankers is part of the On Think Tanks School but has been designed and is being delivered in collaboration with others:

  • On Think Tanks: a leading global platform dedicated to the study and support of policy research institutes and the broader policymaking environment. On Think Tanks works to promote, develop, and support initiatives of think tanks given their key role on the contribution of knowledge to the world of politics.

  • The Think Tank Hub: Founded in April 2014, is an initiative undertaken by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) in collaboration with the think tank foraus – the Swiss think tank on foreign policy. The hub aims to create a dynamic and innovative platform for think tanks specialized in various fields.

  • foraus: The leading Swiss think tank on foreign policy generates independent, high quality recommendations for foreign policy decision makers and the public, thereby bridging the gap between academia and politics.