Call for Applications

Building Think Tank Influence and Effectiveness – Professional Fellows On-Demand Exchange Program

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Application Deadline: May 31st 2016

Building Think Tank Influence and Effectiveness ,” a Professional Fellows On-Demand Exchange Program funded by the U.S. Department of State and implemented by World Learning. This exchange program encourages the study of existing and emerging international bodies in Asia and their efforts to address national, regional, and global challenges.

Asia’s regional architecture is critical to continued peace, stability, and mutual prosperity in U.S-Asia relations. Established architecture includes a range of important regional organizations such as ASEAN, APEC, the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI), and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), as well as global bodies like the World Bank. Countries’ involvement in these bodies has traditionally enabled greater economic growth and effective resolution of regional security threats. ASEAN’s upcoming 50th anniversary offers an occasion to reflect upon the value and future of Asia’s regional architecture.

Think tanks play a critical role in promoting Asia’s commitment to good leadership, based on sound principles and values, rule of law and a pragmatic approach. In recognition of think tanks’ pivotal function, the United States offers a professional exchange for subject matter experts and think tank administrators with their U.S. counterparts. The exchange contains two tracks. In the first track, scholars are invited to work with American colleagues to share different research approaches and hypotheses on topics of mutual interest for the region and the United States. In the second track, leaders and managers will discuss approaches to increasing think thank capacity and influence.


The exchange program will include two categories of think-tank professionals. Eleven think-tank scholars, including one from each of Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, will research regional bodies and their approaches to solving transnational issues. Thirteen think tank leaders, including one from each of the following countries Australia, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, will investigate different models for growing their think tanks’ capacity and influence. During their stay in the U.S., both sets of participants will have common program segments but also separate tracks, pursuing two sets of goals.

The objectives are:

1. Scholarly work

• Promote a model for stability and rules-based systems in the region
• Evaluate the pros and cons for specific Asian nations’ participation in existing regional architecture
• Assess particular regional bodies’ approach to solving a regional or global issue
• Improve factual, evidence-based research capabilities and analytical skills
• Strengthening public policy presentation capabilities, including lobbying and media engagement
• Greater understanding of U.S. foreign policy towards multi-lateral fora in Asia

2. Think-tank capacity building and networking

• Strengthen think-tank capacities in areas such as organizational strength, financial systems, resource management
• Empower think-tanks to get more visibility for their work and increase their capacity to advocate
• Support think tanks in their efforts to connect within countries and in the region in order to provide a framework of sustainability for their work

The U.S. program for participants from countries of East Asia and the Pacific will take place in September 2016 (tentative dates). The length of the program is three weeks (think-tank management) and four weeks (scholarly work). The program will include a joint segment in Washington, D.C. dealing with think tank development and sustainability, combining visits, talks and training, applicable to all participants. The segment will be followed by placements with U.S. think tanks, where fellows will either look at the functioning of the American organization or will analyze Asian regional architecture and alternative approaches. Research topics could include modes for dispute resolution (code of conduct, resource sharing), multilateral financial institutions (ADB, AIIB, World Bank, IMF), international models for cyber security, effective use of multi-lateral fora, etc. Examples of U.S. hosts could include the Brookings Institution, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), The Stimson Center, The Asia Foundation, Asia Society, U.S. Institute of Peace, Center for a New American Security (CNAS), Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS), Center for American Progress, Heritage Foundation, U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, and the East-West Center. The U.S. segment for both groups will end in Washington, D.C. with action-plan meetings and public speaking.

In Phase 2, American host institutions will continue to collaborate with the fellows through email and social media. Fellows will complete their management project or research begun in the United States and generate a multiplying effect in their home countries.

During Phase 3, 6-12 staff from American host institutions will visit the fellows in their home countries for two weeks. They will help raise the profile of their Asian colleagues’ think tanks by participating in panel discussions, presentations to foreign government officials, consultations with NGOs and academia, and media engagements. A joint event might be organized in the spring of 2017.

Accommodations will include double-person hotel rooms. A small stipend will be provided during the participants’ time in the United States to cover basic living expenses. The cost of international and domestic travel, program related ground transportation, cultural activities, and all other programmatic and logistical arrangements will be covered.

Candidates will be professionals from think-tanks that are active in either management or scholarly research. We seek candidates with excellent interpersonal and communication skills, proven leadership abilities, and a commitment to the program and follow-on activities. Those selected will come from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and organizations. We also aim for gender balance. Strong English language skills are required as the participants will need to converse about complex issues with US peers and experts. To select the best candidates, we will review applications based on clearly defined criteria, including:

• Openness to dialogue and new ideas
• Strong potential to play an increasingly important role in think-tank promotion and development; and
• Interest in participating in the program and sharing the experience with colleagues and the public.

Preference will be given to applicants with relevant professional achievements. The candidates should be able and willing to host American counterparts, and design, arrange, and coordinate, under World Learning and its partners’ supervision, a local professional and cultural program for the American participants.

The application must be completed in English. The deadline for submitting the application is May 31, 2016.

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the Building Think Tank Influence and Effectiveness 

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