Skip to main content

Progressive Think Tanks: What Exists, What's Missing?

  • Date
  • January 2002
  • Author
  • David Dyssegaard Kallick

In the United States today, there are hundreds of progressive think tanks, research organizations, advocacy groups, fellowship programs, state-level and local groups, and informal networks. However, few of them approach the heft, influence, and magnitude of their right-wing counterparts—such as the Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute. Center-left groups may be in their own way more adept and responsive to changing circumstances, but they have not provided a counterweight to right-wing ideas such as privatization, deregulation, and underinvestment in public purposes.

According to this publication from OSI's Program on Governance and Public Policy, before moving forward with efforts to expand the progressive capacity to develop ideas and policies, it is essential to go beyond the old critique and understand just what actually exists. What policy work is already being done? What's being done well? What's neglected? Where do we have ideas that need data to support them? Where is there a need to link academic researchers to the press or policymaker, or to help organizers based in local communities speak to issues of state or federal policy?

This publication seeks to answer these questions and provide a map for moving forward—one that shows all the landmarks as well as the uninhabited places, the roads connecting organizations but also the missing bridges. The ultimate goal is the maximization of progressive ideas, not just reactively but proactively.

Subscribe to updates about Open Society’s work around the world