Yay! Our LSE IDEAS, World's 4th Best Uni Thinktank

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 1/27/2012 07:27:00 AM
Well here's a nice bit of news concerning LSE IDEAS, the research centre I am associated with. The good folks at the University of Pennsylvania Think Tank and Civil Societies Program recently came out with the 2011 edition of their authoritative report on the world's leading thinktanks. To my personal surprise considering that LSE IDEAS only started in 2008, we are now considered the world's fourth most influential university thinktank alongside our colleagues from the Public Policy Group. Launched at the United Nations no less, the UPenn report is not a trifling one. Here is the relevant table with the 30 top-ranked university thinktanks:

Those who come ahead of us are obvious given their advantages in being longer-established and better-funded. However, consider as well those we've bested that I would not have suspected to have surpassed at all. Being a blogosphere minnow myself, I was bemused to see that the Mercatus Center of Marginal Revolution and Koch Industries-funding of the Tea Party variety fame came in 8th. Or, consider that we bested the mega-famous Jeffrey Sachs' very own Earth Institute at Columbia. The same sort of surprise comes from outranking the likes of the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard, and the Center for the Study of Globalization at Yale. (On another note, I am chuffed by the emergence of so many influential think tanks from outside the West. There are more folks in developing countries who also can benefit from considering policy advice, right?)

Perhaps one of the sources of strength of LSE IDEAS is its unity in having a diversity of opinions. Whether you like libertarian thought or not, the Mercatus Center is certainly consistent in its advocacy and vantage point. For us, though, our co-directors don't even agree on such basic things as a power shift from the West to the East occurring in the world economy. The same holds true with our visiting fellows and their ideological perspectives. On one hand we've hosted Niall Ferguson who styles himself as a "punk Tory." On the other hand we've also had Martin Jacques of "When China Rules the World" fame--a former editor of Marxism Today and a columnist for The Guardian.

While the IPE Zone is for now an orbiting offshoot of LSE IDEAS, note that there too is an official LSE IDEAS blog (to which I contribute to sometimes in, er, more sedate fashion).

Recalling early last year, attempts to tar us with the Libyan involvement at LSE may have actually done us good by bringing attention to our unique work alike inviting Chinese foreign ministry officials to come and share with us "What China Wants" instead of embarking on the umpteenth rehash of "Why America is So Great and You Stupid Coloured People Should Fall In Line" and its corresponding whitebread echo chamber. While some pitiably misinformed tabloid linked the presence of many top British diplomats here to being "useful idiots" of Moammar, the Woolf Report found no links between us and the the previous Libyan leadership. Sorry, there are no Moammar outfits in our closet.

Ah, but enough of that. I must salute the powers-that-be at LSE IDEAS for I did not really appreciate the comprehensiveness of their vision. It has come a long way from its humble start as the Cold War Studies programme--understanding the collapse of the Soviet bloc is the key to understanding contemporary globalization, they kept telling me--to its current recognition as one of the world's finest academic thinktanks.