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Two generations ago, American policymakers and scholars developed a U.S. national security strategy that offered a lasting and coherent response to the threats that emerged after World War II. In the late 1940s George F. Kennan, then a diplomat serving in Moscow, developed the strategy of containment. This strategy became the cornerstone of America’s successful effort to address the threat of Soviet expansion.

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The Tobin Project asks for grant proposals from scholars who intend to undertake new, policy-relevant research that will contribute to knowledge of regulatory governance and the appropriate role of the state and markets in economic regulation. Potential research topics may address four over-arching themes: models of economic and political behavior; strategies for assessing regulatory outcomes; information flows and regulatory politics; and regulatory strategy and design.

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At an inaugural meeting of the Economic Inequality working group, scholars identify a number of domains for research, each of which offers a promising setting for promoting cross-disciplinary collaboration and highlighting important research questions. While the scholars agree that inequality has been reasonably well-measured, they also note that research on the causes of increased inequality has produced little consensus and that there is markedly little work on the consequences of and remedies for inequality.

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What are the best ways to structure economic regulation in an age of rapid technological change, fraying social safety nets, globalization, and the reemergence of concentrated corporate power?

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On June 22, 2007, members of the National Security working group met to discuss U.S. Iraq policy. With seven discussion pieces to ground their conversation, the scholars considered politics inside Iraq, U.S. force posture in the Mideast, managing al-Qaeda, the humanitarian mission in Iraq, preventing the spread of conflict, and the response from Washington.

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On June 23, 2007, the Institutions of Democracy working group met to chart a path forward for the initiative. Participants grounded their discussion with a collection of short, idea-generating pieces prepared by members of the group. Conversation transitioned to a focus on the main obstacles of reform of the election system and the types of policies and institutions that would enable the election system to run better.

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In May 2007, the Risk working group met to consider "Managing Risk in the 21st Century" and to develop a research for the group going forward. Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) attended the meeting and offered on-the-ground perspective, highlighting the challenges that policymakers face in proposing new policy.

The scholars contributed short papers for discussion at the meeting:

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In the Spring of 2007, three new Tobin Project working groups came together to discuss fundamental unanswered questions in their field and set an agenda for future research and engagement. These early working group meetings included Macroeconomics (with Representative John Spratt, Chair of the House Budget Committee), Health, and Retirement Security.

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On April 21, 2007, the National Security working group convened to explore a series of questions that will drive the initiative forward:

  • What should the national security research agenda be?
  • What theories are missing from the field?
  • What are concrete steps or projects the group can undertake?

To ground the discussion, a group of scholars presented short, idea-generating papers.

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The Institutions of Democracy working group published a series of essays, "Six Ways to Reform Democracy" in the Boston Review’s September/October 2006 issue, “Seeds of Change.” With an introduction from Heather Gerken (Yale Law School), the essays offer six ideas to improve democratic governance in the United States.

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