Winterschool for Thinktankers 2018 – Geneva

Organised by On Think Tanks, foraus, Think Tank Hub
Event type Courses
Location Think Tank Hub, Geneva
Start date 4 February 2018
End date 10 February 2018

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.


Read more about the new thinktankers:

The School

During this 7-day programme in Geneva (4th February – 10th February 2018) you will acquire the basic tools needed to develop and strengthen your own think tank. You will learn from prestigious experts at the local and international level and you will have the chance to discover some of the key actors of global governance based in Geneva.

The Winterschool for Thinktankers is primarily focused on thinktankers, researchers and practitioners interested in engaging with and informing international policy agendas, particularly Agenda 2030. However, anyone 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.

As well as key aspects of the Agenda 2030, such as the transformational promises of the SDGs (leave no one behind, integration of development dimensions) and partnerships and influencing the SDG at the national and global levels.

The mornings will be dedicated to lectures from think tank experts from Geneva and 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 confirmed list of lecturers includes renowned experts and organisations such as:

  • Simon Maxwell; former Executive Director of the Overseas Development Institute – on governance and management for think tanks
  • Stephen Yeo; On Think Tanks Adviser at Large and former Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) – on monitoring, evaluation, and learning of policy influence
  • Sonja Stojanovic Galic; Director of Belgrade Center for Security Studies – on financial management for think tanks
  • Enrique Mendizabal; Founder of On Think Tanks
  • Will Paxton; former Deputy Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research and Founder of Kivu International – on developing a policy relevant research agenda
  • Andrea Ordoñez; Director of the Southern Voice Initiative on the SDGs – on developing a policy relevant research agenda and the role of think tanks in Agenda 2030
  • Francesco Pisano; Chief, United Nations Office at Geneva Library – on the UN System and how to engage with Agenda 2030
  • Jeff Knezovich; Head of Communications for On Think Tanks, former digital communications manger for the Nuffield Trust and former communications officer at the Institute of Development Studies and the Overseas Development Institute – on think tank communications
  • Emilia Pasquier; Director foraus –on the foraus business model
  • Alexandre Biedermann; Vice President of the Board, foraus
  • Catherine Fiankan-Bokonga; Correspondent Journalist, United Nations Office; Vice President, Geneva Press Club – on working with the media
  • Marc-Andre Pradervand; Fundraiser- on fundraising
  • Yan Luong; Deputy Director, foraus and Head of the Think Tank Hub – on developing digital content in the age of social media
  • Jérôme Favre; Coordinator of foraus Geneva – on digital influencers and digital advocacy
  • Kali Taylor; Co-founder Students-Energy – on complexity theory and its applications to think tanking
  • Thomas Biersteker; Director of Programme for the Study of International Governance, The Graduate Institute – on developing policy relevant agendas
  • Others who will be confirmed soon.

You can read up a draft version of the programme here. The programme will be updated on a regular basis.

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?

This School is designed for young 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  a city tours so that you can experience Geneva at its fullest.

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

Those completing the Winterschool will be invited to apply for a mission-focused follow-up support from On Think Tanks. 

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.

Participants can apply for a scholarship that will cover the fees and accommodation.

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).

To apply please complete THIS FORM. We will review it every week and accept participants on a rolling basis until the 8th November 2017.

Applicants will be contacted by the organisers to notify the results of the application and advice on the payment process.

If you wish to be considered for a scholarship please apply before the 30th October 2017.

The earlier you apply the greater chances you will have.

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

Who is behind the School 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: For and about think tanks, this organisation 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.
  • Southern Voice: Founded in 2012, Southern Voice is a vibrant network of 50 Think Tanks from Africa, Latin America and Asia that serves as an open platform to stimulate, generate and promote high-quality evidence-based analyses for the global dialogue on the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The Winterschool for Thinktankers is funded by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs(FDFA).





To apply, complete THIS FORM by November 8th. If you are applying for a scholarship, please make sure you submit this form by October the 30th.