School for Thinktankers 2021: a summary

The School for Thinktankers +  is designed to prepare and inspire the next generation of think tank leaders, build a community of thinktankers, and encourage participants to reflect on their organisations and how they can support their development.

In early 2021 we delivered the School for Thinktankers online for the first time. The online format posed the challenge of adapting the structure of the school to the new setting and ensuring that we maintained the key aspects of the school: a space to reflect, share knowledge and network. To address these challenges, the programme offered a combination of synchronic and asynchronous components. During the live sessions participants heard lectures from trainers, engaged in group work and discussions with peers and experts, and had opportunities to network. Additionally, optional study groups were set up for participants to work together on a task based on their interests. We also had off-session engagement via an online messaging platform. The asynchronous component included short pre-recorded lectures and background readings for each of the topics the school covered. We also created a new website where all materials- including recordings of the live sessions- were hosted.

The online setting offered the possibility of having more diversity both in trainers and participants: the 2021 cohort has been both our biggest and most diverse group so far. We were joined by 32 participants from 23 different countries (from Mexico to Papua New Guinea), and 18 trainers from around the world.

This document is a testament to the engaging and interesting discussions we had during the School for Thinktankers 2021. In it, we summarise the key ideas, reflections and advice provided by trainers and participants, and share the resources used during the live sessions. These takeaways cover a variety of activities related to think tanks’ activities and can help readers understand key issues of running and managing a think tank.

We hope this document will help readers understand think tank management better and that you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed the School for Thinktankers 2021 experience.