Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Brookings Turns 100 And Pivots Amid Rocky Stretch

On October 1, 2016, as the venerable Brookings Institution turned 100, it issued "Brookings 2.0," a plan for its second century.

Brookings's new goals fall under five categories:
  1. Tightening its focus
  2. Enhancing its influence and relevance
  3. Promoting a culture of collaboration
  4. Advancing inclusion and diversity
  5. Reinforcing efficiency and sustainability

Among other things, the think tanks says it is reissuing Brookings Classics, books from the think tank's past that are relevant to some of today's issues.  A podcast celebrating Brookings centenary can be found here.

In conjunction with its big birthday, the think tank had announced an initiative to raise $600 million.

A timeline of Brookings, including all of its past logos, can be found here.  A showcase of the impact of the work by the think tank's scholars can be found here.

Brookings notes that it has come a long way since 1916, when it had only 13 staff members; that compares to the 500+ it has now.  Brookings has also joined Snapchat.

We should note that all is not birthday cakes and roses for Brookings.  After all, the think tank has received huge amounts of negative press about pay-for-play schemes and close ties to corporations and foreign governments.  And recent investigative reports show that the think tank has been unable to shake off this decades-old stigma.

The new book "Right Moves: The Conservative Think Tank in American Political Culture Since 1945," says that even in the 1950s Brookings was perceived as "anything but free from special interests."  It adds: "By the post-World War II period, Brookings had gained a reputation, especially among liberals, as a spokesman for big business."

The book also notes that Brookings played a key role in selling the Iraq war to the American public and government.  "The advocacy of think tanks like Brookings...helped create a consensus around the invasion of Iraq."