Is UNRISD a think tank? Or a research organization? And what is in fact the difference? These were some of the questions covered in the exchange between UNRISD's Head of Communications, Jenifer Freedman, and the participants in the Geneva Winter School for Thinktankers
on 23 January in the Palais des Nations, Geneva.
UNRISD's participated in the Winter School as part of the afternoon programme of visits to UN organizations, a complementary practical part of the School to the morning sessions of lectures by think tank experts. Jenifer Freedman introduced UNRISD and its role both at the UN and for its broader constituencies. She also provided the participants with a brief overview of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals as the context in which UNRISD is currently working. This led into a discussion of how to create a policy-relevant research agenda, and in particular of the integrated approach that UNRISD takes involving a variety of researcher skills as well as a communications contribution.
Interest and excitement
About 20 participants attended the presentation, asking engaged questions about working with the UN and monitoring impact. “It was very interesting to hear about different channels of communication,” commented Halyna Pastukh, who works for the data journalism agency TEXTY in Ukraine. “I also realized that it’s important to have a very well-organized process of communication.”
Makhele Letchogonolo, a Masters student at Pretoria University in South Africa, is setting up a health education NGO which he will lead after graduation. “The Think Tank School is very useful: the importance of research, community diagnosis, the right objectives. Still to come this week is funding, monitoring and evaluating projects – it’s very exciting.”
Enriching public debate
UNRISD was delighted to be invited to participate in the Winter School as an opportunity to help maintain an active and dynamic community of think tanks. Think tanks inform and enrich the public debate, thereby supporting democratic governance and sustainable development.
It was also in important way for UNRISD to contribute to capacity building for recent graduates or postgraduate students from developed and developing countries with prior experience working in think tanks or intending to create one themselves.
The Winter School is organized by On Think Tanks
and the Think Tank Hub, Geneva
. It is funded by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and runs from 22-29 January 2017.