Think Tank Regional Roundup

The TTCSP is beginning a weekly roundup of new information and trends in the top thinks around the globe. Each week will focus on one or two different regions and offer a very brief synopsis of the topics that think tanks in these regions have been covering recently. 

By: Matthew Detrick

Western Europe
               The focus of the top Western European think tanks recently has been centered around the Middle East and the current power struggle between the United States and Russia. The most intriguing publication came from Konrad Adenauer Stiftung titled, “Think Tank Report: 2/2018 Insights into the agendas of international think tanks”. According to the report, Russia is setting itself up to be a prominent world player (along with the United States) through its power struggle in the Middle East, namely Syria. In Syria, Russia is playing two hands. On one hand, they are working with the international community to establish ceasefires in Syria; however, on the other hand, Putin continues to increase its Airforce presence and assist the Assad regime in its endeavors. The Danish Institute for International Studies also held a talk on this issue earlier in the year that is still being promoted on their website.
 
Middle East and North Africa
               There is still a heavy focus on Syria and how the war there is affecting the region. The major think tanks including al-Jazeera, Carnegie Middle East Center, and The Institute for National Security Studies are pessimistic about the civil war in Syria. In a publication released by CMEC, experts weighed in on the firing of Rex Tillerson and the nomination of Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State. Each expert believes Mike Pompeo will be a better Secretary of State because of the North Korea threat. According to these experts, Rex Tillerson was in to deal with the Iran nuclear deal. It is believed that the Iran deal is over and this is why Tillerson was ousted. Now the Trump administration is ready to seriously deal with North Korea and leave Iran alone.

Matthew Detrick is a TTCSP intern working from Penn State University. Please contact Dr. McGann to get in touch with him. 

OpEd: Think Tanks- The Missing Link in Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030

By: Michael Schwartz

In April 2016, King Salman of Saudi Arabia announced the bold and ambitious Vision 2030, a blueprint for achieving the kingdom’s long-term goals through economic and political reforms.  The scope of Vision 2030 is unprecedented, as HRH Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud, an advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, notes, “Vision 2030 is not just a program for economic reform, it is a true effort at national transformation.

This initiative, developed by the new crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS), seeks to diversify and expand the economy, moving it away from dependence on petroleum and state-run enterprises, while also introducing government reforms to enhance transparency and public engagement. With this focus on reforming the public sector and expanding the private, the Saudis have largely ignored the role that the third sector, civil society, could play in realizing Vision 2030.

Compared to other states in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s civil society is significantly underdeveloped.  The authoritative Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania recognizes only 10 think tanks in the country; other major nations in the region have far more: Egypt 39, Iraq 31, Turkey 46, and Iran 67.  As a whole, Saudi think tanks are rarely recognized among top-tier organizations globally or even regionally.  While state restrictions limit the third sector, there is an informal civil society developing through socio-cultural groups and policy debates among youths on social media. Although many Saudi citizens want a more active, formalized role, the state’s suspicion of dissent prevents this.

Given the ever-wary Saudi royal family, the public sector’s monopolization of power and the dearth of independent think tanks can be expected; however, Vision 2030 offers an opportunity to develop the kingdom’s third sector to support this grand plan. By 2030, Saudi Arabia intends to have over 450 social and cultural clubs, but a new 2016 NGO law, which eased the requirements for forming organizations, reinforced the ban on political groups.  On the Vision 2030 website, MBS states, “We will be transparent and open about our failures as well as our successes, and will welcome ideas on how to improve”; however, this opening clearly applies only to socio-cultural groups that have little influence on decision-making. To truly reap the benefits civil society, Saudi Arabia needs to empower it to discuss the complex problems facing the country.  

Enabling civil society to expand beyond a socio-cultural focus and support the implementation of Vision 2030 would offer tangible benefits for the Kingdom.  Currently, the government is the sole force in developing, initiating, and executing reform, and think tanks could bring innovative ideas to the process.  By distributing duties to think tanks, the Saudis could also begin the reduction of the bloated public sector through privatization, a key goal of Vision 2030.  In addition, think tanks could serve as a counterweight to entrenched conservative forces within the government that reject Vision 2030.  Moreover, the Saudi government has often hired leading global consultancy firms, such as McKinsey & Company, to analyse the Kingdom, but Saudi think tanks could serve as in-country advisory organizations, able to better understand the Kingdom and suggest implementable, bespoke reform policies. If the Saudis truly want to achieve their Vision 2030, developing top-flight think tanks is imperative.

Although the development of a genuinely efficacious third sector is a long, complex process--like Vision 2030--there are some concrete steps that the Saudis could take to accelerate it.  First, as stated earlier, they should formally empower civil society to assist with the implementation of the Vision 2030 plan; this would show the Saudis are serious about encouraging dialogue between the state and people.  Second, they should establish an elite, professional track for selecting and training Saudi citizens in economic, political, and foreign policy at top domestic and global institutions. By offering opportunities to Saudi students and graduates, the government could create jobs and bring citizens into the political process.  Third, the Saudi government should tell the think tank community what it truly needs, whether short-term, industry-specific policies or long-term predictive analyses.  Free from the restrictions of governance, Saudi think tanks could offer outside yet in-house expertise that could be tailored to particular challenges.  While implementing Vision 2030 and opening a space for civil society could radically alter the long-established socio-political contract between the Kingdom and its citizens, to truly reap the benefits of reform Saudi Arabia needs to actively nurture world-class think tanks and enable them to augment reform efforts.

OP-ED: Proliferation of Think Tanks in Western Europe

By: Eric Guo

To the unfamiliar, think tanks are organizations that generate policy-oriented research and advice for policymakers. Regardless of whether the advice is generated in-house or privately by think tanks such as Chatham House or the French Institute of Foreign Relations (IFRI), every government requires policy advice on complex issues, whether they be domestic, economic, or foreign affairs. 


The use of think tanks by European policymakers is arguably different from that in the United States. The primary reason is because European governments often have a built-in class of senior civil servants that are able to generate policy internally who do not have high turnover rates like those in the US. Therefore, think tanks are not as proliferated in Western Europe as they are in the US. However, changes in the political climate necessitated the cooperation of smaller, partisan think tanks with political parties to enhance their agendas, leading to a greater proliferation of think tanks from the 1980s onwards. The change from nationally driven broad-based research institutes to issue-specific think tanks allowed for greater breadth of research and knowledge, becoming more conducive to addressing the interconnected issues of the modern day. 


With the advent of the internet, a new medium of engagement has emerged. Some think tanks have begun looking to target not just policymakers, but also laymen, with their research. As more people begin to distrust regular news media, there is a rare opportunity for think tanks to fill the void by providing expert knowledge directly to common people. A new type of “virtual” think tank makes use of the internet to publish and disseminate, essentially becoming a think tank without brick and mortar. By doing so, more funding can be directed to research-related activities instead of ordinary expenses. One such example can be found in Polis 180, a grassroots virtual think tank founded at the Hertie School of Government in Berlin, focusing on foreign and European politics for young people. 


In essence, think tanks have an opportunity to depart from obscurity, by working with civil society actors beyond governments. Expert knowledge will never run out of demand, therefore think tanks should consider enlarging their audience to increase impact.  
 

OP-ED: The Relevance of Think Tanks in the Current Administration

By: Stephen Purcell

Think tanks produce research that informs policy. That is, fundamentally, what they do and why they matter. When policymakers govern in spite of evidence—in particular the purpose-built evidence gathered by think tanks—it’s more than an insult. It’s an existential threat to the industry. 

How, then, should a think tank respond to such a policymaker?

Looking at the Rand Corporation, the think tank whose 2016 report demonstrated the negligible cost of allowing transgender Americans to serve in the armed forces, the answer seems to be: quietly, if at all.

Through the summer, journalists rightly used Rand’s study as evidence that President Trump’s efforts to rescind the rights of transgender military personnel had little to do with his stated motive of financial responsibility. Rand itself, however, made only the austere protest of posting its original work on its social media pages, even as Trump’s statements shifted alarmingly from promises to policy.

What’s striking here is not so much that Trump’s decision contradicted Rand’s research, but that he justified himself with the very argument that the report disproves. He never claimed that Rand’s work was wrong, misleading, or beside the point. Instead, he ignored it, forcing Rand out of the discussion altogether. This is what I mean by an existential threat.

Rand’s laconic response demonstrates their faith that information speaks for itself and that their role is to produce and provide—but not actively defend—such information. These stoic principles define Rand and many other think tanks.

Not all think tanks think like this, though. For some, policy research means acting on the knowledge they generate. Some people label these organizations “think-and-do tanks,” as if they were just noisily engagé knockoffs of true think tanks. What this dismissive nickname overlooks, though, is that some of the most influential think tanks operate this way. Amnesty International’s humanitarian project blends research, advocacy, and activism, while the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung—one of Germany’s most prominent think tanks—aligns itself with the nation’s Christian Democratic Party. These are not only legitimate think tanks but profoundly important ones.

Properly acknowledging these engaged groups, we might think there are two categories of think tanks: the discoverers of the truth, and the truth’s defenders. But even this is too simple. Instead, contrasting Rand’s stoicism with Amnesty International’s activism suggests two models of what a think tank does. Individual think tanks may gravitate towards one or another, but, whether they realize it or not, being a think tank means being both. At their core, think tanks suggest that these two tasks are the same.

Consider the history of think tanks. They have existed for over a century, but the event that ignited their growth and solidified their policymaking status was the Cold War. The US government needed experts to weigh in on strategic, scientific, and political quandaries, but universities were uneasy about their professors taking on such politically engaged roles. The think tank became a way for professors to research and cooperate on government projects without implying that they did so as representatives of their home institutions.

It’s easy to read this as a movement from objective and disengaged research to goal-driven, partisan advising. Instead, though, it marks a dispute over what those categories mean, whether participation in political decision-making compromises or—in some cases—furthers the pursuit of knowledge. The think tank represented the idea that academically rigorous thought and political action are, at times, necessarily intertwined. (The humanities have developed similarly through the 20th century, as literary theorists shifted from formalist approaches that sought single, objective interpretations severed from historical and ideological contexts to theories that embrace the interconnectedness of texts and their political, cultural, and intellectual circumstances.)

Even the phrase “think tank” links thought with practicality and contextual embeddedness. (Whether we use a tank to fight a battle or house a goldfish, we judge it by how well it works.) To be a think tank is to see the two as, potentially, the same thing.

Recognizing this bond between knowledge and efficacy, the question for researchers in think tanks becomes how best to generate rigorous and politically purposeful research. Think tanks may answer that question differently from one another, but that is the unifying question to which they all respond.

I began this essay by claiming that think tanks face an existential threat from policymakers who are willfully ignorant of their advice. The better term, though, might be “existential crisis”—not necessarily an event that threatens to eradicate think tanks, but circumstances that challenge them to define themselves and their purpose more clearly.

I’ve tried to indicate what this existential crisis is, and how think tanks might respond to it. By framing the goal of a think tank as a response to a question, I want to find what organizations like Rand and Amnesty International share, but I also hope to clarify what those organizations are while allowing for variation and transformation. As political circumstances change—as they are changing in Trump’s post-truth America—so too may a think tank’s answers.

OP-ED: Why Saudi Arabia Should Invest in Think Tanks

By: Corey Driscoll

Over the past decade, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has played an increasingly important role in both regional and global politics, and although rapid political ascents are often accompanied by the robust expansion of a country’s policy advice institutions, this has not been the case with Saudi Arabia. The overall development of these institutions, particularly think tanks, has for the most part been completely stagnant in the kingdom. If Saudi rulers want to fully seize their county’s potential as a regional powerhouse, then they must develop the capacity of such think tanks and knowledge-based institutions. This entails both government initiatives to found new think tanks and expand current ones, as well as changing the Saudi legal code to promote the development of free thought.

There are a variety of ways that investing in knowledge production could benefit the Saudis. For instance, think tanks often provide excellent and diverse sources of knowledge from which government policy makers draw upon. For this reason and many others, most world powers are already keen on utilizing them. However, Saudi Arabia lacks in both the number and quality of its think tanks, especially when compared to other states in the region. The Kingdom has eight think tanks, compared to Iran’s 67, Israel’s 67, Turkey’s 46, and Egypt’s 39. These nations are all comparable in their geopolitical and economic centrality to the Middle East and North African (MENA) region. As mentioned, the Saudis also fall behind in the quality of their think tanks. In the 2016 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report, published by the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, the kingdom had only one think tank among the “Top Globally Ranked MENA Think Tanks”, compared to Turkey’s 10 and Israel’s seven. To realize their ambitions of transcending above Iran, Egypt, Turkey, and Israel to become an undisputed regional hegemon, the Saudis should turn their investment to think tanks.

On top of this, think tanks excel in economic research, which also happens to be a critical policy area for Saudi Arabia, whose economic future is quite unpredictable. As a rentier state, the vast majority of the kingdom’s revenue comes from oil profits, yet as oil prices have declined over the past few years there has been a push to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil. At the center of that effort is Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), who has spearheaded a policy called “Saudi Vision 2030” seeking to diversify the country’s sources of revenue. Alas, diversifying an economy is a hard and complicated task, and the kingdom’s rulers need institutions like think tanks to provide them with proper policy advice in handling this transition.

Another reason Saudi Arabia should invest in knowledge-producing institutions is that after the passing of the JCPOA, the divide between the kingdom and Iran is slowly shifting from a conflict based on hard power to one determined by soft power. Iran has seemingly given up on its short-term nuclear ambitions in exchange for economic viability. It will increasingly challenge Saudi Arabia through soft power tactics such as trade and diplomacy. Countering such an offensive will require much more comprehensive and flexible planning than conventional warfare contingencies provide. This is the type of planning that is best done by think tanks, whose sole purpose is often designing comprehensive solutions to intricate and vaguely defined problems.

There are those who say the political stability of Saudi Arabia is due to its practice of stifling the internal development of thought. While complete autocracy and a total repression of free thought may seem stable to some, it also entails a lack of innovation in most sectors of society. A society that does not innovate is one destined to stagnate, a lesson that China had in mind when it introduced hybrid-capitalism to its special economic zones (SEZ’s). MBS has already recognized this through his 2030 plan, with which he intends to introduce an entertainment industry to one of the most conservative societies on Earth. On top of decrepit innovation in policy and knowledge, autocracy also comes with a general restriction of citizens’ civil and political rights. The long-term restriction of these rights to a large swath of society may destabilize the state as eventually these citizens will demand greater freedoms.

Saudi Arabia should allocate at the very least a small portion of its budget to the development of knowledge-based institutions. It could complement this by providing subsidies to think tanks under development and introducing legislation to restrict the government’s censoring capabilities. This will lead to less self-censorship within the Saudi academic community, as well as the pursuit of previously unexplored avenues of knowledge. Should it implement these policies, Saudi rulers will eventually find their country far more competitive in economics, politics, and academia, all goals of MBS’s “Vision 2030”.

Corey Driscoll is an intern at TTCSP.  Please contact Dr. McGann to get in touch with him.

2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report Launch

Think Tanks & Civil Societies Program

The Lauder Institute

The University of Pennsylvania

February 1, 2018

Greetings, I am pleased to share with you the link for the 11th, 2017 edition of the Global Go To Think Tank Index Report  You can now post and circulated this copy of the Report.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the 175 organizations in more than a 100 cities around the world that launched the world with Why Think Tanks Matter in an Era of Digital and Political Disruptions. 

You are encouraged to post and share the report with your network of friends and colleagues and as always, we welcome your comments and suggestions for we can improve the indexing process. 

Thanks again for helping the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the Lauder Institute, University of Pennsylvania raise the profile, performance and impact of think tanks around.

 We appreciate your support and value your participation and feedback

All the best, Jim McGann

2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report  & Why Think Tanks Matter Docs

Global Go To Think Tank Index Report link: http://repository.upenn.edu/think_tanks/13/  

Global Go to Index Report and Why Think Tanks Matter Event welcome address text by Dr. McGann link: http://repository.upenn.edu/think_tanks/14/  

Why Think Tanks Matter video link: http://repository.upenn.edu/think_tanks/15/  or https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1xRlh_J1hluCazPJ7CdhLKqLmkcHgKdWy

OP-ED: Independence and Intellectual Diversity: The Next Step in China’s Think Tank Development

By: Zaki Atia

Xi Jingping has made it clear that the development of “think tanks with Chinese characteristics” is an essential objective for his administration. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been committing substantial intellectual and financial resources to its state affiliated think tanks in order to realize this goal. However, the Chinese think tank landscape still has a long way to go if it wishes to have the same international outreach and prestige as its western counterparts.

Many think tank scholars argue that while the Chinese think tank landscape is rapidly expanding, it is still in an early stage of development. As Wang and Lu put it, China’s state affiliated think tanks are “big but not strong,” university institutions are “too academically high-brow,” and private think tanks are “weak and weary.” Huang Yangzhou is even more critical, and argues the CCP’s major investments in think tanks are just “a think-tank Great Leap Forward” because the current development strategy favors quantity over quality.  

For China’s think tank environment to get past these limitations and thrive, it must embrace intellectual diversity. The best means for the Chinese government to promote diversity in its think tank landscape is to pave the way for distinct operational models that allow for independent and private think tanks.  

The Chinese state should include independent and non-partisan think tanks in its vision. It is unclear what defines a “think tank with Chinese characteristics,” but one could speculate that it is a research institution entirely tied to the CCP. Despite how China’s state affiliated institutions have the most resources, think tank experts often criticize them for reproducing the same low-quality research and justifying the CCP’s status quo policy decisions rather than innovating new policy options.

To the credit of these state affiliated research institutions, historically there have been instances when China’s major foreign policy initiatives came from state-based think tanks. For example, Hu Jintao’s “Peaceful Rise of China” concept can be traced back to the Central Party School think tank. It is over-simplistic to assert that China’s current think tanks are purely mouthpieces for the state that will always fail to produce meaningful research.

Still, there are several reasons why allowing state affiliated and independent research institutions to both play large roles in China’s think tank landscape would be ideal for Chinese foreign policy. First, it would maximize the number of options considered by policy-makers. Independent think tanks diversify China’s public policy research because they are not limited by the parameters set by the CCP. If policy options that are distinct from state discourse are examined, Chinese policy-makers will be more equipped to address the countries many public policy challenges. Second, independence enhances the reputation of a think tanks and bolsters the credibility of Chinese research. The Brookings Institution is consistently ranked as the highest quality research institution in the world by the TTSCP’s Go to Global Think Tank Index, and a crucial factor for that ranking is the Brooking’s independent status that garners respect from think tank scholars. If Chinese tanks wish to have the same prestige and international recognition, independence is essential.

However, China’s current think tank environment does not adhere to a feasible operational model for independent research institutions. China’s private and independent think tanks will likely benefit from examining the operational model of other international top-tier think tanks. For example, the Brookings Institution deliberately enforces several regulations to maintain the independent and non-partisan image it has cultivated for over a century. Donors are not permitted to influence topics of research and any grant is turned down if it violates this principle. This system works in the US because donors to non-profits are provided tax exemptions, but the IRS requires all non-profits to publicly disclose their primary sources of funding. The US legal framework is immensely beneficial for the welfare of independent think tanks, because it incentivizes donations and transparency. The CCP can adopt a similar framework to pave the way for independent think tanks with robust funding and international prestige.

The Brookings Institution was founded by a wealthy businessman and was able to maintain funding through the donations of multiple other foundations and entrepreneurs. China’s plethora of wealthy business elites are in a similar position to establish and fund China’s own “Brookings.” It is up to the CCP to tap into this potential by providing the incentive for new operational models, rather than allow China’s state affiliated research institutions to crowd out the rest of the think tank landscape

 

Zaki Atia is an intern at TTCSP.  Please contact Dr. McGann to get in touch with him.

MED 2017 Day Three Highlights

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ABOUT MED 2017

MED 2017 is the 3rd edition of the annual high–level initiative, co–organized by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI). This event is intended to turn Rome into a global hub for high–level dialogues on the broader Mediterranean, with a view to re–thinking traditional approaches and drafting a new "positive agenda". 

The event is by invitation only

THIRD DAY SPEECHES

  THE US ADMINISTRATION AND THE MIDDLE EAST   The Session discussed the Middle Eastern politics of the Trump Administration in the context of political divisions in the Gulf, post–conflict Syria and the Libyan crisis. 

THE US ADMINISTRATION AND THE MIDDLE EAST

The Session discussed the Middle Eastern politics of the Trump Administration in the context of political divisions in the Gulf, post–conflict Syria and the Libyan crisis. 

  DIALOGUE TOWARDS A MEDITERRANEAN PROSPERITY   The Dialogue discussed the promotion of sustainable development for the Mediterranean region, which includes economic, social and environmental issues. The role of China in supporting regional economy was also a key focus of the meeting.

DIALOGUE TOWARDS A MEDITERRANEAN PROSPERITY

The Dialogue discussed the promotion of sustainable development for the Mediterranean region, which includes economic, social and environmental issues. The role of China in supporting regional economy was also a key focus of the meeting.

  A VIEW FROM QATAR    Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al–Thani, Qatar Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, shared his country’s view on the main regional issues. 

A VIEW FROM QATAR 

Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al–Thani, Qatar Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, shared his country’s view on the main regional issues. 

  DIALOGUE WITH GHASSAN SALAMÉ   Ghassan Salamé, Special Representative and Head of UNSMIL (United Nations), discussed the Libyan peace process and the prospect for national reconciliation.

DIALOGUE WITH GHASSAN SALAMÉ

Ghassan Salamé, Special Representative and Head of UNSMIL (United Nations), discussed the Libyan peace process and the prospect for national reconciliation.

  DIALOGUE WITH ABRAHAM YEHOSHUA The Israeli writer Abraham Yehoshua provided his view on the shared identity elements in the Mediterranean region. 

DIALOGUE WITH ABRAHAM YEHOSHUAThe Israeli writer Abraham Yehoshua provided his view on the shared identity elements in the Mediterranean region. 

  CLOSING SESSION   Paolo Gentiloni, President of the Council of Ministers of Italy, and Angelino Alfano, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, concluded the third edition of RomeMed, highlighting the main results of the meeting. 

CLOSING SESSION

Paolo Gentiloni, President of the Council of Ministers of Italy, and Angelino Alfano, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, concluded the third edition of RomeMed, highlighting the main results of the meeting. 

THIRD DAY INTERVIEWS


MED SPEAKERS

MICHAEL KÖHLER

Director, Neighbourhood South, DG NEAR, European Commission

DINA FAKOUSSA

Head, Middle East North Africa Programme, DGAP, Germany

IBRAHIM AL–JAAFARI

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq

OLIVIER ROY

Joint Chair in Mediterranean Studies, RSCAS, EUI

ALAIN AOUN

Vice Chair, Defense and Interior Committee, Lebanese Parliament

ALESSANDRO PROFUMO

CEO, Leonardo, Italy

GIOVANNI OTTATI

President of Confindustria Assafrica & Mediterraneo

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER

Deputy Secretary General, NATO

LORENZO VIDINO

Radicalisation and International Terrorism Centre, ISPI

ABRAHAM YEHOSHUA

Writer, Israel

JEFFREY SACHS

Director, Earth Institute, Columbia University, United States of America

WISSAM FATTOUH

Secretary General, Union of Arab Banks, Lebanon


A Quick Policy Brief by the Europe Team

The European Union was established to promote social, political and economic harmony among the states of Europe and to further encourage transparency and cooperation. Europe has been successful in recent years, among other things, in avoiding military conflict, in transferring institutions and legal know-how from member states to candidate countries, in eliminating income gaps between EU countries and in successfully integrating post-communist countries into democratic states with functioning market economies and the rule of law. However, the European Union is constantly challenged, and uncertainty seems to be the prevailing sentiment across the continent, questioning the extent to which the states of Europe are united.

We identified that the most salient and vexing challenges facing the European Union today are the rise of populist parties, and consequently, isolationist trends, as well as immigration due to the refugee crisis across Africa and the Middle East. Moreover, the instability of the Eurozone, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the devastating terrorist attacks, and the “threat” of new member nations pose various problems for the states of Europe and challenge their unity. Due to these issues, countries such as Britain, who were leaders in EU governance and stability have voted to prioritize national interests at the expense of international cooperation. Following Brexit, uncertainties have increased exponentially. Now, into late 2017, a series of referendums around the European Union have sparked heated dialogue over the role of centralized government at the national and supranational levels. Britain is joined by separatist motivations in Catalan. Northern Italians question the distribution of resources from Rome. The Fidesz and Jobbik parties urge Viktor Orban to challenge Western Europe’s liberal values. Everywhere it seems, austerity measures following the 2008 Financial Crisis have incubated divisive relations between cities, regions, and member states.

Our report examines those major developments in the European Union over the last half decade that challenge the continent’s legacy of peace, cooperation, and integrationist agenda. While it is true that each country we focus on present their current events with a unique profile, we believe that common themes emerge from each context. Through an attention to populism and migration, the following examples instantiate the political, economic, and military consequences of a destabilized European Union.

The Europe Team is led by Ioanna Krontira

Global Trends and Transitions in Security Expertise has been Released!

James McGann's latest book has been published and is available for purchase.  

The scope of Security and International Affairs (SIA) research has expanded tremendously since the end of the Cold War to include topics beyond the realm of war studies or military statecraft. A field once devoted solely to the study of conventional military and nuclear security issues has diversified to include foci often considered nontraditional, including peace and conflict, political, economic, environmental, and human security. 
In this exciting new volume, McGann has undertaken a quantitative and qualitative study of SIA think tanks, looking at global and regional trends in their research. He argues that the end of the Cold War marked a fundamental shift within the field of defense and security studies among think tanks and academics. Tracking the evolution of security as understood by researchers and policymakers is vital as the world follows the path of the “Four Mores”: more issues, more actors, more competition, and more conflict. As we move forward into a world of rapid change and ubiquitous uncertainty, think tanks will only become more prominent and influential. This will be an important resource for students and scholars of security studies, global governance, and think tanks.
The volume concludes with an assessment of the future of Security and International Affairs studies and raises the possibility of a return to a traditional security focus driven by recent events in Europe and the Middle East. This will be an important resource for students and scholars of security studies, global governance, and think tanks.

Copies may be purchased here

Fill out Global Go To Think Tank Index Open Source Ranking Survey

Greetings Colleagues and Friends:

In an effort to encourage the input from a broad range of individual and institutional perspectives from around the world, the 2016 Global Go To Think Tank Index is pleased to announce the creation of an open access survey for the 2015 Index nominations and ranking process. 

Please submit your nominations on or before November 30, 2017, by using the survey link provided here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2017GOTOTT

The open source rankings will be are segregated from the rankings made by experts and peers and the ranking results will be tabulated separately. This enables us to open the process while maintain the quality and integrity of the process. 

The annual global ranking of think tanks is conducted with the help of volunteer research interns and without the benefit of funding from any source.

The schedule for the 2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index is as follows:

· Round I (Think Tank Nominations August 1 – October 1, 2017)
· Round II (Think Tank Ranking October 1 – November 30, 2017)
· Round III (Expert Panel Review November 30 – December 18, 2017)
· 2015 Global Go To Think Tank Index Launch in New York, Washington, DC and 120 cities around the world on January 30, 2018
· 2017 Global Go To Think Tanks Index Report Scheduled Release January 30, 2018


Please consult the definitions, nomination and ranking criteria, and tools for assessing think tanks when making your nominations. These are provided in the 2017 Global Go To Think Tank Report which is posted on the University of Pennsylvania Scholarly Commons web site at: http://repository.upenn.edu/think_tanks/12/ for easy reference.

You can make up to 5 nominations per category. Please note that all nominations made will be kept strictly confidential. No self-rankings will be considered. Please submit your responses no later than November 30, 2017. In addition, there are now over 50,000 individuals and institutions that are included in the Global Go To Think Tank listserv.

Thanks for helping us increase the profile and performance of think tanks around the world.

All the best, 
Jim McGann


James G. McGann, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer, International Studies
Lauder Institute for Management and International Studies
Director, Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program
Wharton School and School of Arts and Sciences

Senior Fellow

Fels Institute of Government
University of Pennsylvania