May 21, 2020


OTT Conference 2020: the 2nd online event

On Think Tanks, DGAP – Online
start date: June 23, 2020 end date: June 25, 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 leat 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.

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

Find out more about our Conferences here

The schedule (CEST time)

Day 1: 23rd June

13:00-15:30 Academic meeting (more information to follow shortly)

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

  • Speaker 1: Goran Buldioski (Open Society Foundations)
  • Speaker 2: Julie LaFrance (former member of the Think Tank Initiative team)
  • Speaker 3: Daniel Grutjen (Stiftung Mercator)
  • Speaker 4: Henry Alt-Haaker (Robert Bosch Foundation)
  • Moderator: Enrique Mendizabal (On Think Tanks)
This session 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.

17:00-1730: Networking session

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

Day 2: 24th June

14:30-15:00: Keynote 1 | Stephanie Hankey, Tactical Tech: on data and politics

15:00-15:30: Networking session

15:30-17:00: 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), Jeff Knezovich (WHO) and Memory Kachambwa (Femnet)

15:30-17:00: 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, this session will inquire how different research systems condition the nature of think tanks and affect their development. Of particular interest for the discussion will be the effect that COVID-19 may have on the practice of policy research in the short and long terms. This session is convenes by Francesco Owino (GDN)

15:30-17:00: 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. 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?

17:00-17:30: Recap and next steps

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

Day 3: 25th June

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

15:00-15:30: Networking session

15:30-17:00: 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) who will invite participants to join a new Community of Practice on state capture and think tanks.

15:30-17:00: Parallel 5 | Monitoring, evaluation and learning

This session as a cooperation between the web series on #DigitalThinkTanking (hosted by DGAP, WonkComms and Soapbox) and the OTT Conference. There are aspects of thinktanking that are rather straight forward when it comes to MEL – e.g. monitoring the activities undertaken. Others are harder – e.g. monitoring the impact think tanks have on their audiences and on policy processes and outcomes. This session, convened by Dena Lomosfky (Southern Hemisphere) and Claire Luzia (DGAP) aims to launch a new Community of Practice on MEL for think tanks.

15:30-17:00: 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 and Universidad del Pacífico.

How to register?

We will post information about registration here soon