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OTT Annual Review 2018: Public Engagement

OTT’s 2018 Annual Review is a compilation of articles written by over 20 authors, both from within the OTT team and from external collaborators. This series brings together articles in which authors reflect on why and how think tanks can engage with the public.
  1. 1

    On public engagement

    There are many histories of think tanks – but I like this origin story of the modern think tank. Sometime in the late 1800s, business leaders, policymakers, experts and the interested public came together in civic associations in US cities to solve pressing problems such as crime and waste... Read full article
  2. 2

    Reflections on a decade of the Think Tank Initiative

    At the Think Tank Initiative (TTI), we just received the draft of our final evaluation report for Phase 2. Final evaluations are always exciting, if a little nerve wracking, as the team’s efforts are put under the microscope. I am not going to go into detail on the evaluation findings now... Read full article
  3. 3

    Policy Kitchen: Empowering the public as experts and authors in research

    Public engagement commonly focuses on consultation and awareness activities. By explaining and discussing findings, researchers seek to enhance the application, benefits and relevance of their work. However, increased visibility and significance do not necessarily lead to better research... Read full article
  4. 4

    In conversation with ‘the interested public at large’

    At Soapbox, we receive a lot of invitations to tender for think tank campaigns and websites. The following is a direct quote, but they nearly always say something similar: Our primary target audiences are: 1. Policymakers 2. Academics 3. Civil society organisations 4. The interested... Read full article
  5. 5

    For think tanks, video has become a key tool to achieve our central purpose

    When you want to learn something new, where do you turn? According to recent research put out by Google, for millennials the answer is increasingly video. In fact, millennials are 2.7 times more likely to watch a video on YouTube when seeking to learn new information or skills than a book or... Read full article
  6. 6

    International Fund for Agricultural Development’s approach to policy engagement

    Policies affect every dimension of the economic environment in which people pursue their livelihoods. And enabling policies are essential for providing the conditions for inclusive and sustainable development. Because the policy framework can have such a dramatic impact on the opportunities... Read full article
  7. 7

    Influencing Brexit?

    I had invited Institute for Government colleagues round for a barbecue on the evening of 23 June 2016. We had planned to have fun on the roof terrace, watch the UK membership to the European Union referendum (‘Brexit’) results come in and take the next day off to recover while the... Read full article
  8. 8

    Investing in a robust public engagement and communications plan for India’s Public Affairs Index 2018

    The Public Affairs Index 2018 uses data to rank Indian states on governance. 2018 was the Index’s third year; it was bigger, more comprehensive and more rigorous, including 10 broad policy themes, 30 subjects and 100 indicators. The Index is an important data-driven social accountability... Read full article
  9. 9

    Immersive experiences and simulations are helping think tanks adapt to the changing policy landscape

    For many decades, think tanks have been able to carve out a neat place for themselves within the policymaking process, without having to seriously consider changing the way they undertake research or the way they fundamentally work. That has now irrevocably changed. Policymakers and... Read full article
  10. 10

    Six lessons from think tanks influencing and informing elections

    Attempts to set up a presidential candidate debate during Argentina’s 2011 elections failed, with those candidates leading the polls refusing to join. But, in 2015 there was a different political climate: President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner would not be permitted another re-election.... Read full article
  11. 11

    Sustainable Development Television in review

    To whom should we disseminate our research? Audiences can be policymakers, a particular community, academia and/or the private sector. Engaging each stakeholder group requires a different strategy. For example, to engage a policymaker, the think tank needs to be credible and support its... Read full article
  12. 12

    Helping emerging think tank managers to improve their practice with the OTT-TTI Fellowship

    Together with colleagues at OTT, I’m coordinating the 2018/19 Fellowship. This year it’s being run in partnership with the Think Tank Initiative. The Fellowship is for emerging think tank managers and young leaders. Just Google ‘leadership course’ and you’ll find a plethora of... Read full article
  13. 13

    Supporting the University of Nottingham’s policy impact strategy

    The University of Nottingham has embarked on an ambitious programme to better showcase its high-quality research. In 2017 the University launched its Research Vision, focusing its mission on delivering exceptional research that transforms lives in the local community, the UK and across the... Read full article
  14. 14

    Critical decisions setting up an independent think tank in Colombia

    In 2018, OTT was asked to provide strategic support to a new Colombian policy institute during its foundational stage. The Institute had been founded to carry out, encourage and support research and knowledge production for the sustainable development of Colombia’s energy sector. The... Read full article
  15. 15

    Public engagement at the Latin America Evidence Week

    As think tank professionals, it’s easy to be in tune with current events, policy research, evidence-informed policymaking, impact evaluations and the importance of public engagement. Through the Semana de la Evidencia Latinoamericana (Latin American Evidence Week) – an international... Read full article
  16. 16

    Exploring the relationship between think tanks and social movements

    Do think tanks and social movements work together? What motivates this engagement? How do they work with each other? What difficulties do they face? With the support of the Open Society Foundations we set out answer these questions and find out how and why think tanks and social movements... Read full article
  17. 17

    The Open Think Tank Directory: a journey

    In 2016 the idea of the Open Think Tank Directory was born: to create a public directory to benefit the entire think tank community. The directory would organise the scattered information available on think tanks, be open, transparent and able to be updated by think tanks themselves.... Read full article
  18. 18

    Experts from organisations with acronyms?

    I think that the people of this country have had enough of experts from organisations with acronyms saying that they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong … Michael Gove, UK Member of Parliament, June 2016 In many countries, the past two or three years have seen a... Read full article