October 16, 2020

The Usefulness of Think Tanks in Academic Discourse

Think tanks are a widely misunderstood and controversial aspect of academics. The general public considers them to be a way that politicians can drive their education in certain areas and increase their ability to choose informed policies. They’re also intended to force action and ideas regarding problems like climate change, poverty, and racial injustice. But there are questions as to the usefulness of these think tanks in academic discourse that must be analyzed to be better understood.

The idea of think tanks is a somewhat recent and still misunderstood part of academics. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the idea, since the general public sees them as one thing and the way they are frequently used is another. In theory, think tanks are intended to be used as a way for politicians to search avenues of education that need to be addressed for the collective good of society so that they can be informed when they make their decisions regarding policy change.

Think tanks are designed to force action and ideas in problem areas that affect controversial but important topics such as climate change, racial injustice, and poverty on multiple levels. When these ideas are combined in academic discourse, it gives scholars a chance to think outside the box and develop research theories that could be used to better society.

What are Think Tanks Used For?

How think tanks are used is one thing, but the purpose behind them is another. Some people consider them to be nothing but a means for one party to push their agenda on another, but the underlying point of a think tank is to push for a change to be made in policies that could create a difference. Think tanks open up discussions of ideas to networks of people who can influence the change, and regardless of the direction of the agenda, if enough evidence is in support of the answer, the think tank has been beneficial in informing those who can enact the strategies discussed.

Think tanks were originally designed to bring in the experts regarding a topic and encourage the discussion of ideas and suggestions that could help influence policy makers towards choosing one solution over another. They are a catalyst for action to take place to solve problems that are worldwide concerns. From human trafficking to the trickle-down effect the pandemic of COVID-19 has had on the world, think tanks are the place everyone can agree to go to where the experts can converge to discuss solutions to essential concerns. Since policy makers understand that this is where the magic happens behind the legalities they are attempting to implement, it’s also where they go to learn before making decisions.

Think Tanks and Politics

While the think tanks are a catalyst for ideas and solutions, they have to get on the policy agenda in order to be heard by the policy makers. To make it onto the agenda is difficult, but once there, those in charge of displaying the expertise and solutions to the audience must be prepared to demonstrate their answers compellingly. Getting onto the policy agenda is a balancing act of being persistent, having the right expert knowledge on the subject, getting the timing right, and knowing the right people to take advantage of the opportunity of an opening slot when it shows up.

Just in case the opportunity to showcase an idea happens at the last minute, think tank idea leaders must be ready to showcase their proposals for a solution at any given time. There must be an idea as well as the proof of resources and the answers to any questions of how the idea would be enacted so that the policy makers will become supporters of that agenda through informed decision-making.

Moving Think Tanks into Academic Discourse

Although think tanks are considered political in nature since they are the setting where multiple organizations attempt to push their agendas, the truth is that it’s the academic scholar who ultimately drives the change. Including academic discourse in the informative aspect of policy, setting is a necessary component unless a politician is motivated to make a decision solely on the agenda of those setting the itinerary and designing the policies.

Because of the importance of informing those who are in a position to effect change on a thorough level, it’s important to move the idea behind think tanks into an academic discourse on an institutional level. By teaching academic students how to converse in debates and speak to a wide audience to drive their points, they can take this knowledge into the field of think tanks in front of politicians and confidently express the solutions to the world’s problems, thoroughly explaining the same idea in multiple ways to ensure they address the different types of learners in their audience. It’s a winning scenario that could end up creating a solution that makes a huge impact.

Tags Researchers COVID-19 Pandemic Policy Makers
Jason Collins
Jason is a writer for many niche brands with experience “bringing stories to life” for both startups and corporate partners.

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