Lawrence Yealue, II is a CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at Accountability Lab
Throughout history, people have continually sought positive social and economic change, and found creative ways to make it happen. This change has been driven by a sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo, for example in the case of the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. and the anti-Apartheid efforts in South Africa. But the list is endless.
Our societies have evolved and will continue to do so because there are many sources of dissatisfaction in every corner of the world, including terrible acts of suppression, segregation, and discrimination that threaten human dignity. I believe that humans are by nature kind, loving, and fair – but a lack of honesty, transparency, and accountability can create negative dynamics that lead to unacceptable behaviors.
For me, there is nothing more satisfying that seeing a change-maker leading the change they want to see. Some of my own greatest heroes include the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela.
I see countless change-makers of this mold emerging through young leadership programs across the world. In particular, the program I am now part of, the CIPE-Atlas Corps fellowship. The overall objective of the program is to bring young leaders from across the world to research institutions in the US in order to build the skills and capacity they need to drive reform. This empowers them to create even greater change when they return to their home countries.
CIPE and Atlas Corps welcomed the latest class of Think Tank LINKS Fellows at the end of January. This year’s class comes from a wide range of backgrounds – from South Asia, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa – to Washington, DC for six months to partake in a leadership development program. All of the fellows will serve at renowned think tanks in Washington, DC, and shadow researchers and experts to learn best practices of successful think tanks in the U.S.
We’re excited to introduce our latest Think Tank LINKS fellows to everyone!
Think tanks play a vital role in any democratic society, providing policy analysis, carrying out advocacy campaigns, and keeping politics focused on key policy issues. Particularly in developing countries or societies in transition, a good think tank can make enormous contributions to democracy — as in Ghana, where CIPE partner IEA sponsored the first-ever presidential debates and helped ensure a smooth and peaceful electoral process in 2008.
The important role played by many of CIPE’s think tank partners around the world was confirmed again this year by the Think Tanks and Civil Society Program at the University of Pennsylvania. In their annual list of global “go-to” think tanks, at least 14 current and former CIPE partners were listed among the most influential in their respective regions and even globally.
Sally Roshdy was a CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED).
It was a great pleasure participating in the Think Tank LINKS Fellowship in Washington DC and serving at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED). Once I learned that the accepted applicants would serve at an American think tank, I was very interested in applying to this prestigious fellowship. The first time I heard the term “think tank” was in my second year at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University when one of my professors emphasized the significance of think tanks and their role in helping decision-makers in all fields of public policy.
ThinkTankLINKS participants and CIPE Program Officer at a baseball game in DC. Maksim Karliuk is second from right.
Maksim Karliuk was a CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Cato Institute.
The very first CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellowship is now over. I can say that it was definitely a success for me. I have achieved all the goals that I set in the beginning: to learn best practices and know-how in managing a think tank; to improve my skills in analytical research work; and to learn how to disseminate policy proposals efficiently and ensure their implementation.
My host organization was the Cato Institute. The experience there was essential in terms of achieving all my goals, and more beyond that. Constant interactions with the scholars and staff made the experience truly rewarding. What is quite special to Cato is that there are informal discussions that take place all the time and on various topics. I learned a lot from them and even managed to contribute a “European perspective,” as some referred to it.
Some of the most rewarding experiences during my stay were the one-on-one meetings with the representatives of the major think tanks and research institutions in DC. Of course, I had the opportunity to do that at Cato, which included weekly meetings with senior fellow Jagadeesh Gokhale with whom we worked closely on the issues of financial crisis in the U.S. I had a stunning discussion of economics and politics with the senior fellow Andrei Illarionov, former chief economic adviser of Vladimir Putin. In terms of managing think tanks, I had a great opportunity to learn about best practices in managing Cato personally from its Executive Vice President David Boaz.
CIPE and Atlas Corps are inviting young researchers interested in learning how to better articulate youth’s position in democratic or economic reform issue to apply to our program, the CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellowship!
Think Tank LINKS Fellows will shadow researchers and experts at leading U.S. think tanks for 6 months (January to July 2013), and will gain valuable insights and skills to improve their advocacy and leadership skills.
This is a fantastic opportunity that you don’t want to miss!
Learn more about the program by watching an interview with Maksim Karliuk from the inaugural class of Think Tank LINKS Fellowship, or reading about their experiences on CIPE’s blog.
The deadline is August 2, 2013 so don’t wait until the last minute to apply!
Maksim Karliuk is a CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow serving at the Cato Institute.
The recently published report by the NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies, Democracy Think Tanks in Action: Translating Research into Policy in Young and Emerging Democracies, is a great start for assessing the environment for think tanks in a number of relatively new or struggling democracies. The report analyzes think tanks in nine countries (Argentina, Ecuador, Georgia, Ghana, Lebanon, Romania, Slovakia, South Korea and Turkey), and it shows both similarities and differences in the context within which think tanks operate, their aims and objectives, the ways in which they overcome difficulties in their respective countries and best practices. This initiative should be expanded in the future to cover more countries, including Belarus, and should also identify clear indicators to have a comprehensive comparative picture of think tanks in the identified group of countries.
Below I will provide a succinct overview of the think tank scene in Belarus. To start with, the political situation in the country does not favor the work of independent think tanks. They have to operate in the context of restricted political and civil rights, which include limited freedom of speech and association. This leads to practical problems for the very existence of think tanks (in terms of registering the organizations in the country), as well as making it difficult to hold events, and impairs presence in the media. At the same time, the government generally does not trust the opinion of independent institutions, which diminishes the role of think tanks in society. Yet being one the least reformed countries in the post-Soviet space, Belarus vitally needs new ideas and policy proposals to address the various challenges the country faces.