Tobin Project Model

The Tobin Project has developed a potent model for catalyzing transformative research in the social sciences. Through years of continuous innovation, Tobin has refined its program structure to most effectively motivate scholarly inquiries with great potential to benefit society. The model, outlined below, has been lauded as one of the most effective mechanisms developed to-date for mobilizing publicly minded, interdisciplinary research and productively connecting scholars and their work with the policy community.

The model

  • Define strategic research questions with the greatest potential to benefit society.
  • Engage leading scholars across disciplines and institutions, and build communities of scholars around core research questions.
  • Incubate and produce new research through scholarly collaboration and with policymaker input.
  • Disseminate compelling ideas through academia, public discourse, and policy formation.
  • Innovate continually on the Tobin model of strategic research development.

While these phases sometimes occur in sequence, the structure of the model is not linear and the steps often overlap and reinforce one another. Key to each phase is the continuous engagement of scholars and policymakers within and across the Tobin Project communities. Perhaps most importantly, the Tobin Project is always innovating on its model, refining its approach as new lines of inquiry emerge, ideas develop, and new people become involved.

The Tobin Project’s unique place in the idea-generation pipeline

With its one-of-a-kind model and mission, the Tobin Project is uniquely positioned among the spectrum of organizations working to generate and disseminate new ideas in the public arena.  

Within the academy, the Tobin Project works with scholars to motivate the type of interdisciplinary work on society’s most pressing problems that is not always facilitated by typical university incentives. Through this work, Tobin often collaborates with traditional academic centers with shared research interests. These partnerships benefit from the institutional roots, resources, and experience of academic centers, while at the same time taking advantage of the Tobin Project’s unique role as an external catalyst with a multi-university network of scholars and policymakers, and its entrepreneurial energy.

In the policy arena, the Tobin Project works with think tanks to ensure that its research efforts are informed by the latest policy thinking and that new research reaches key decision makers. Such collaboration serves to complement efforts on both sides. In the field of medicine, solutions to problems are offered both by clinicians, who combat disease with the tools available today, and by research laboratories, which expand this set of tools through rigorous, cutting-edge research, improving our ability to combat disease in the future. In many ways, think tanks are the clinicians of the policy world, offering needed solutions to current problems with the research available today. And the Tobin Project serves a role like that of the research laboratory, generating new knowledge that over time promises to yield improved solutions and, in some cases, quantum leaps in our ability to address the policy challenges of the future.