On the 12th floor of a pyramid-shaped, 14-story building in Tokyo’s energetic Shibuya district, sit the headquarters of the United Nations University. Just a few floors down, researchers are busy at Japan’s Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability. The two organizations are linked by more than shared office space, although the ties might not be obvious to the general public. In fact, UNU’s structure and activities aren’t overtly evident to those outside its walls.
The inner workings of the university — comprised of Japan’s IAS and 14 other research entities in 14 countries — have long been obscure, especially when compared to many more globally visible U.N. agencies, said Hillary McBride, who took over UNU communications nearly two years ago.
The U.N.’s research arm serves as a bridge between the international academic community and the U.N. system and was never meant to launch large communications campaigns to promote its projects, McBride told Devex. Still, the term “university” no longer captures the full scope of work of the institution without a traditional campus, set up in the early ‘70s to power collaborative research on the world’s most pressing problems.
A number of large institution's have internal "think tanks," including the World Bank, US Congress, and US Department of Defense.