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think tanks and Public Policy Groups -- the W&L List


The contents of the sites listed below are searchable through this search engine.

This is a list of 175+ groups found to be useful in research at W&L.  

Here are additional lists of public policy and advocacy groups.


Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab

Massachusettes Institute of Technology project whose "objective is to improve the effectiveness of poverty programs by providing policy makers with clear scientific results that help shape successful policies to combat poverty."

American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Interdisciplinary scholarly society. See "Projects" section.

American Association for the Advancement of Science -- Science and Policy Programs

Largest general scientific organization.

American Civil Liberties Union

U.S. Bill of Rights protections.

American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research

Research on competitive enterprise, defense and foreign policy, domestic policy.

Amnesty International

International human rights monitoring.

Annenberg Public Policy Center

Media and public policy.

Annie E. Casey Foundation

Children and families.

Anti-Defamation League

Anti-Semitism, pro-Israel research.

Arms Control Association

Arms control policy research.

Asia Society

Asia and Pacific region issues.

Atlantic Council of the U.S.

"Promotes constructive U.S. leadership and engagement in international affairs based on the central role of the Atlantic community in meeting the international challenges of the 21st century."

Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

"Hub of the Harvard Kennedy School's research, teaching, and training in international security affairs, environmental and resource issues, and science and technology policy."

Benton Foundation

Media policy.

Bipartisan Policy Center

"Non-profit organization that was established in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell to provide a forum where tough policy challenges can be addressed in a pragmatic and politically viable manner."

Brennan Center for Justice

Democracy, poverty, criminal justice issues.

Brookings Institution

Non-partisan research in economics, government, public policy.

Campaign Finance Information Center

Campaign finance issues.

Campaign Finance Institute

Campaign finance issues.

Carl Vinson Institute of Government

University of Georgia.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

International affairs and American foreign policy.

Cato Institute

Limited government, free markets.

Center for American Women and Politics

Research into the changing role of women as political leaders, from the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies

Georgetown University.

Center for Contemporary Conflict

Research institute of the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School's Department of National Security Affairs

Center for Defense Information

"Watchdog" group on military spending and policy.

Center for Democracy and Technology

Technology and constitutional values.

Center for Health Services Research and Policy

Coverage of issues such as underserved populations and welfare reform. From George Washington University.

Center for Immigration Studies

Immigration policy issues -- reports, news, statistics.

Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

Research on the civic and political participation of young Americans.

Center for Law and Social Policy

Social welfare, low-income families, reproductive health.

Center for National Policy

"Focuses on several areas of national, economic, and regional security" -- nuclear security, Asian security, military transformation, Iran, Iraq, al-Qaeda.

Center for Nonproliferation Studies

Control of weapons of mass destruction.

Center for Public Integrity

Issues of integrity in public life.

Center for Responsive Politics

Money in electoral politics.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Nonprofit seeks to "educate the public, advocate government policies that are consistent with scientific evidence on health and environmental issues, and counter industry’s powerful influence on public opinion and public policies."

Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

Non-partisan analysis of military spending and national security policy issues..

Center for Strategic and International Studies

International security issues.

Center for Studying Health System Change
Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier

"nonpartisan organization dedicated to the study and teaching of founding principles and constitutional ideals."

Center for the Study of the Presidency

Research on political leadership.

Center for Voting and Democracy

Research on electoral reform.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Impact of government policies on low-income families.

Center on Congress

Indiana University.

Centre for European Studies

"Among the most experienced and authoritative think tanks operating in the European Union today."

The Century Foundation

Analyses of economic policies, foreign affairs, media issues.

Chicago Council on Global Affairs

"Independent, nonpartisan organization committed to influencing the discourse on global issues through contributions to opinion and policy formation, leadership dialogue, and public learning."

Child Trends

"Nonprofit, nonpartisan research center that studies children at every stage of developmen," providing research, data, and analysis.

Children's Defense Fund

Research on issues affecting children and teenagers.

Children's Partnership

Policies affecting children and teenagers.

Combating Terrorism Center

Research center at the U.S. Military Academy (West Point)

Common Cause

Monitoring performance at all levels of government.

Commonwealth Fund
Research on health and social issues.
Commonwealth Institute

Research on international security, inequality, and poverty.

Concord Coalition

Fiscal responsibility in government.

Constitution Project

Analyses of constitutional issues, from Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute.

Council for Excellence in Government

Support of public service and government.

Council on Foreign Relations

International aspects of American political, economic, and strategic problems.

Death Penalty Information Center

Capital punishment issues.

Drug Policy Alliance

Studies de-criminalization and other issues.

Electronic Privacy Information Center

Technology and privacy issues.

Economic Mobility Project

Collaboration of the Pew Charitable Trusts, American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institution, Heritage Foundation, and Urban Institute to study income inequality and economic mobility in the U.S.

Emily's List

Info for/on pro-choice women running for public office.

Environmental Working Group

Environmental investigations.

Ethics and Public Policy Center

Ethical and religious issues in public policy.

European Centre for Minority Issues

Human and civil rights of minorities in Europe.

European Institute

"Leading Washington-based public-policy organization devoted to transatlantic affairs."

European Policy Institutes Network

"Network of leading European think tanks and policy institutes focusing on contemporary European and EU political debate and policy analysis.

Families and Work Institute

Research on issues of family-work conflicts.

Family Research Council

Policy issues affecting "traditional families."

Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies

Reform of legal profession, with a return to traditional values.

Federation of American Scientists

Problems of science and society.

First Amendment Center

A project of the Freedom Forum, based at Vanderbilt University.

Foreign Policy Association

"Non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring the American public to learn more about the world."

Foreign Policy In Focus

Joint project of Institute for Policy Studies and Interhemispheric Resource Center.

Forum of Federations

International organization which studies and provides information, including best practices, on federalist governmental systems around the world.

Freedom House

Promotion of human and political rights internationally.

George Washington Insitute of Public Policy

"Center for faculty and graduate students engaging in research on important public policy issues" at George Washington University.

Global Health Council

"Works to ensure that all who strive for improvement and equity in global health have the information and resources they need to succeed."

Greenpeace International

Protection of environmental resources.

Alan Guttmacher Institute

Research and policy analysis on reproductive issues.

Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development

"Aims to understand and foster the conditions under which sustained, self-determined social and economic development is achieved among American Indian nations through applied research and service."

Harvard School of Public Health

Public health issues, including alcohol and reproductive health.

Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Health policy issues.

Henry L. Stimson Center

International security issues.

Heritage Foundation

Conservative policy think tank.

Homeland Security Institute

Research on homeland security issues.

Hoover Institution

Public policies in domestic and international affairs.

Human Rights Watch

International human and civil rights.

Initiative on Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity

Research on ethnic, religious, and political conflicts. See their country guides.

Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies

"Nonprofit think tank for research and education on ways to reduce the risk of war, minimize military spending, and foster democratic institutions.

Institute for Politics, Democracy, and the Internet

Support for citizen participation in government. (George Washington University).

Institute for Science and International Security

Science and policy issues that affect international security.

Institute of the Study of Diplomacy

Program at Georgetown University.

Institute for War and Peace Reporting

News and analysis on the Balkans, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union, with an emphasis on issues relating to media coverage.

Institute for Women's Policy Research

Policy issues affecting women and families.

Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Government taxation and spending policy issues.

Institute for Social Research

University of Michigan umbrella organization for various research units, including ICPSR.

Institute on Women and Criminal Justice

Center "for dialogue, research, and information about criminal justice-involved women, their families and communities."

International Center for Research on Women

"Works to make women in developing countries an integral part of alleviating global poverty."

International Centre For The Study of Radicalisation And Political Violence

Partnership of academic institutions in the U.S., the U.K., Israel, and Jordan, producing "first-class research, addressing the most pressing questions that can help to reduce the occurrence and impact of radicalisation and political violence."

International Crisis Group

Private, international group intended to monitor political crises and recommend solutions.

International Foundation for Election Systems

Electoral process issues.

International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA)

Policies to support democratic participation.

International Institute for Strategic Studies

International security issues.

International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism

Israeli think tank on terrorism-related issues.

International Research and Exchanges Board

An organization dedicated to field research and exchange programs between the U.S. and countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs

Concerned with oppression of indigenous peoples.

James Martin Institute Center for Nonproliferation Studies

"Strives to combat the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by training the next generation of nonproliferation specialists and disseminating timely information and analysis."  (Monterey Institute of International Studies)

Jamestown Foundation

Intelligence and national security information, with a focus on terrorism and Eurasia.

Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

Public policy issues of concern to African Americans.

Joint Center for Poverty Research

Study of issues relating to poor in America.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation

" We seek to understand the root causes of social problems, to identify ways of overcoming them, and to show how social needs can be met in practice."

Judicial Watch

"Watchdog" of legal and judicial systems.

Justice Policy Institute

Private non-profit organization with a mission to reduce reliance on incarceration as a solution to social problems. .

Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

The "Research and Publications" section of the KSG site.

League of Women Voters

Promotion of political participation.

Levy Economics Institute of Bard College

"Nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy research organization...  independent of any political or other affiliation, and encourages diversity of opinion in the examination of economic policy issues while striving to transform ideological arguments into informed debate."

Lexington Institute

Study of such policy issues as national defense, homeland security, and immigration.

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

"Addresses issues involving the use, regulation, and taxation of land... urban development, the built environment, and tax policy in the United States and abroad."

London School of Economics and Political Science -- IDEAS

"A centre for the study of international affairs, diplomacy, and grand strategy," with access to reports, articles, etc.

Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC)

"Dedicated to learning what works to improve programs and policies that affect the poor."

Middle East Institute

Multidisciplinary studies of the region.

Middle East Policy Council

Provides "political analysis of issues involving the greater Middle East... strives to ensure that a full range of U.S. interests and views are considered by policy makers."

Middle East Research and Information Project

Nonpartisan think tank, with coverage from Pakistan to Morocco.

Migration Policy Institute

"Dedicated to the study of the movement of people worldwide."

Miller Center of Public Affairs

Study of the American Presidency. (University of Virginia)

National Academies

Combined Web site for the National Academy of Science, National Academy of Engineering, National Research Council, and affiliated research groups.

National Academy of Public Administration

Chartered by Congress to assist federal, state, and local governments in improving their effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Advocacy on issues relating to African Americans.

National Bureau of Asian Research

Research institute focusing on Asia and the Pacific.

National Center for Children in Poverty

"Nation’s leading public policy center dedicated to promoting the economic security, health, and well-being of America’s low-income families and children."

National Commission on Federal Election Reform

Commission "organized by the Miller Center of Public Affairs and The Century Foundation to recommend ways to improve the accuracy and fairness of federal elections."

National Council on Crime and Deliquency

"Conducts research, promotes reform initiatives, and seeks to work with individuals, public and private organizations, and the media to prevent and reduce crime and delinquency. "

National Institute for Public Policy

"A non-profit public education organization that focuses on a wide spectrum of rapidly evolving foreign policy and international issues."

National Institute on Money in State Politics

Coverage of money in state politics.

National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism

Issues relating to the prevention of and responses to terrorism.

National Organization for Women

Seeks full equality for women in business, government, etc.

National Priorities Project

Analyses of government taxing and spending policies.

National Security Archive

Research institute and library of declassified documents. (George Washington University)

National Urban League

"Nation's oldest and largest community- based movement devoted to empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream."

National Women's Law Center

Research and advocacy on " issues that cut to the core of women's lives in education, employment, family and economic security, and health and reproductive rights—with special attention given to the needs of low-income women and their families"

Natural Resources Defense Council

Legal issues and advocacy in environmental issues.

New America Foundation

"Sponsors a wide range of research, writing, conferences and public outreach on the most important global and domestic issues of our time."

Nixon Center

"Goal of the Center is to explore ways of enhancing American security and prosperity while taking into account the legitimate perspectives of other nations."

Nuclear Threat Initiative

Nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons issues.

OMB Watch

Watchdog group monitoring the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, government information, regulatory activity, etc.


International famine relief and promotion of economic self-sustainability.

Parallel History Project on Cooperative Security

"Provides new scholarly perspectives on contemporary international history by collecting, publishing, and interpreting formerly secret governmental documents," particularly on the Cold War, NATO, and modern security issues.

Pew Charitable Trusts

Research in climate change, religion in public life, etc.

Population Reference Bureau

Non-profit research organization providing population data.

Project on Defense Alternatives

Analyses of military policy.

Project on Government Oversight

"Committed to exposing waste, fraud and corruption in the following areas: defense, energy & environment, contract oversight and open government."

Public Agenda

Nonpartisan public opinion/research organization.

Public Campaign

Campaign finance reform group.

Public Citizen

Ralph Nader's civic advocacy organization.

Rand Corporation

Eminent think-tank on national security and social issues, more.

Research Forum on Children, Families, and the New Federalism

From the National Center for Children in Poverty of the Columbia School of Public Health.

Resources for the Future

Analyses of environmental, energy, and natural resources issues.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focusing on health care issues.

Rockefeller Institute of Government

A center for the study of state government.  (State University of New York)

Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy

Analysis of faith-based social services. (State University of New York)

Sierra Club

Advocacy on natural resources and environmental issues.

Southern Poverty Law Center

Monitoring of extremist groups in U.S. Includes Klanwatch and Militia Task Force.

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

Nnon-partisan exchange of ideas, research and data to inform the policy debate about reducing poverty and increasing opportunity in the United States.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

International security issues.

Strategic Studies Institute

Division of the U.S. Army War College.

Transitions Online

"nonprofit organization established to strengthen the professionalism, independence and impact of the news media in the post-communist countries of Europe and the former Soviet Union."

Transparency International

Research on effects of corruption.

Union of Concerned Scientists

Research on effects of technology on society.

Urban Institute

Research on urban affairs (social and economic issues, etc.).

Violence Policy Center

Self-described "gun control `think tank'."

Washington Office on Latin America

"Promotes human rights, democracy and social and economic justice in Latin America and the Caribbean."

Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission

Independent international group (chaired by Hans Blix) which has produced numerous reports WMD control.

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
World Affairs Council of Washington DC

"Non-profit, non-partisan 501©3 organization dedicated to enlightening and educating the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area about international issues."

World Policy Institute

Research on international policy issues.

World Resources Institute

Research on sustainability, natural resource management, and related issues.

Worldwatch Institute

Global issues and trends.