Best think-tanks in Poland (Part II)

This is the 2nd part of my guide around the world of Polish think-tanks. I have not seen such a tool anywhere on the internet but throughout the years received many questions on Polish research institutes and think-tank endeavours in the field of foreign policy and economy. I hope this navigation tool, this map of Polish think-tanks and other similar entities will be useful and will develop year by year.

There is a huge potential in the expert circles in Poland!

Institute for Public Affairs (ISP – Instytut Spraw Publicznych): when I published part I of this series, I received a couple of comments like “what? how come you didn’t include ISP?”. Well, I just wanted to start part II with this institute and cannot imagine this series without it. ISP was established in 1995 and has been delivering materials focused on various public policies since then. Its expertise is wide (from EU affairs through social policy to democratic institutions) but I would like to underline especially three fields widely explored by the ISP: migration, gender equality and the life and rights of disabled people. ISP is also acknowledged for its long-established surveys on mutual perceptions of societies. Especially surveys among Poles and Germans bring about many interesting results, proving it is really worth listening to people’s stories and experiences before judging and delivering strong opinions. The Institute runs a scholarship programme “Science and Society” and delivers many open-source publications.

Freedom Institute (Instytut Wolności): an independent think-tank established in 2012. It focuses on delivering strategic analyses and becoming a place where the world of business and politics can meet and discuss key challenges to the development of Poland. Most importantly, it is known for the Leadership School (Szkoła Przywództwa), a unique programme on the Polish market, aimed at inspiring and developing young leaders with the support and mentoring from personalities representing business and political circles. Also, it runs a programme helping teachers in the entrepreneurship lessons at Polish schools, the Future Lab on good practices in new technologies management and the Duel Amical project in cooperation with other entities from the Visegrad Fours countries that aim at presenting a nuanced view of Central Europe to the Western Europe audiences.

The Jan Nowak-Jezioranski Eastern Europe College (Kolegium Europy Wschodniej im. Jana Nowaka-Jeziorańskiego): not a think-tank per se but a well-established entity contributing to Eastern Europe expertise in Poland and abroad. First and foremost the College is acknowledged for the “New Eastern Europe” magazine, a fantastic source of articles, interviews and reviews of books/films/exhibitions etc. on Eastern Europe. Secondly, the College runs its publishing house where worthy authors from Eastern Europe can find their opportunities. Moreover, it organises study tours to Poland for local officials and young leaders from Eastern Europe, seminars “Translators without borders”, a programme for German, Polish and Ukrainian young leaders and the Eastern Winter School for students. The College also organises the annual conference “Poland’s Eastern Policy” (usually in October) that hosts experts, politicians and activists from many different backgrounds, eager to discuss the principles and practice of Poland’s engagement in Eastern Europe.

The Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding (Centrum Polsko-Rosyjskiego Dialogu i Porozumienia): another not-a-think-tank-per-se but a unique entity worth mentioning in this guide. The Center is state-funded. It combines several areas of the difficult Polish-Russian dialogue: scientific research on contemporary affairs and bilateral history, public opinion surveys/social diagnosis on bilateral attitudes, its own publishing house of books, series and reports in Polish and Russian, translation school “Words to Words” for young translators, a book club “ROSczytani” where Russian writers are popularised, annual football champtionships for children from the Kaliningrad Oblast and neighbouring regions in Poland, “Club of Gdansk” exchange programme for young leaders, providing grants and engaging into the Visegrad cooperation. And they employ only 15 people full-time!

Norden Centrum: this independent research and education oriented centre focuses its activities on the development of public policies in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Denmark and their cooperation with Poland, as well as the exchange of good practices. It is a quite young entity but the team has found its own niche and has a good chance of successfully exploring it. For example, now it conducts such projects as “Circular economy in Poland, Germany and Scandinavian countries 2017-2020” and “Swedish road safety policy 2015-2019”. It also runs training for young leaders and entrepreneurs interested in Nordic markets.

Poland-Asia Studies Centre (CSPA – Centrum Studiów Polska-Azja): the independent Polish think-tank established in 2008, aiming at bringing Asia closer to the minds of Poles and providing advice and consultancy on Asia and Asian markets to Polish decision-makers and entrepreneurs. It organises conferences, seminars and other events on Asia-related issues and runs a daily internet service on Asian affairs with news, articles, reviews and interviews as well as detailed analyses. CSPA, together with Leon Kozminski Academy (a leading private university in Poland) authored a postgraduate course “Chinese business. How to operate efficiently in the times of the Silk Road”. The Centre also runs its own youtube channel: CSPATV.

The Kosciuszko Institute (Instytut Kościuszki): an independent institute established in 2000. Its research and activities are focused mainly on security policy, widely understood and including such issues as energy, cyber and economic security. It cooperates with government, business and non-governmental circles. Since 2015 the Institute organises the annual European Cybersecurity Forum – CYBERSEC, already one of leading cybersecurity-focused projects in Europe. As a kind of a spin-off, the Institute organises also a Polish event of this kind – the Polish Cybersecurity Forum – CYBERSEC PL and the CYBERSEC Young Leaders (there is a call for papers with a June deadline!). It also engages into the Three Seas cooperation (a regional initiative of countries from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic Sea and the Black Sea). Interestingly, it is located in Cracow.

Global.Lab: this quite new entity describes itself as a “think-and-do tank”, operating since 2014. It is focused on, obviously, global affairs and political, social, economic and environmental issues in particular. It tackles them from the progressive perspective and underlines such causes as respect for human rights and dignity, cultural diversity and sustainable development. It consists mainly of young researchers. Global.Lab cooperates broadly with German partners, i.e. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, and with Krytyka Polityczna in Poland. I have recently contributed to their Wielogłos (Polyphony) section where I commented on the role of cities in the globalised world (in Polish).

Institute for the Market Economy Research (Instytut Badań nad Gospodarką Rynkową): describes itself as a “civil think-tank” and has been operating since 1989. It was established with an aim to support the transformational processes in Poland. Nowadays it focuses its actions on scientific research and analyses, as well as stimulating public debate with new ideas concerning the future of development of Poland. It is well known for its annual events gathering hundreds of experts: a non-partisan Civil Congress (Kongres Obywatelski) and European Financial Congress (Europejski Kongres Finansowy – the 8th edition is scheduled for June, 18th-20th). It also runs the Center for Energy Strategies.  The Institute is located in Gdańsk. In 2017 the Warsaw branch of the Institute transformed into a separate Institute of Economic Research and Forecast (Instytut Prognoz i Analiz Gospodarczych).

There are also two foreign think-tanks that have their branches in Poland. This guide would be too far from complete without them:

The European Council on Foreign Relations – Warsaw Office, operating since 2011. It focuses mainly on the EU policies and dynamics. Other issues, such as the Eastern Europe policy of the EU and the security policy are also covered. The ECFR, in general, was covered in part I of the best think-tanks in Europe miniseries.

The German Marshall Fund of the United States – Warsaw Office, operating since 2011. It focuses mainly on the transatlantic cooperation, bonds and the community of values. It contributes broadly to the analyses and actions on security policy, Eastern Europe and democratic institutions in this part of the world. The GMF runs several leadership initiatives. In 2016 I participated in the flagship leadership programme of the GMF – the Marshall Memorial Fellowship. I wrote about my wonderful experiences here.

What are your types? I would be truly grateful if you could let me know if you think there are other think-tanks that should be included in this series. Let’s put here as many details and as many initiatives as possible.

Please note that this think-tank series is not a ranking as it is not based on any kind of a unique methodology. Think-tanks presented in part I are not necessarily better, in my opinion, than those presented in part II (it applies also to the European selection). My intention was to create a simple navigation tool, a guide, a map of the world of think-tanks in Europe and in Poland in particular. It is inspired by the “Global Go To Think Tank Index Report”, developed annually by the team led by Professor James G. McGann at the University of Pennsylvania and by the Prospect Think-Tank Awards. I do not want to be biased in this series and try to include think-tanks representing differing political, economic, social views and backgrounds, even though they are sometimes not present neither in the awards nor in the Pennsylvania study but already prove – in my humble opinion – to be ambitious and hard-working. Therefore, even though I include some politically-defined think-tanks and research centres/institutes here, it does not necessarily mean that I share their views. I truly believe that it is worth reading and listening to the content representing various backgrounds. True think-tank discussions and deliberations have to include disagreements and the clash of arguments. Otherwise – would the “think” element be anyhow justified?


I wrote about think-tanks also here:

5 reasons why think-tanks are soft-power tools

Best think-tanks in Europe – Part I

Best think-tanks in Europe – Part II

Best think-tanks in Europe – Part III

Best think-tanks in Poland – Part I


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