What We Do

The Tobin Project builds its research inquiries around questions of lasting public and academic importance – questions whose answers could contribute to understanding and improving public life. To surface the most important questions, the Tobin Project works with a network of leading scholars along with experts drawn from government and civil society.

The Tobin Project model for catalyzing transformative research »

Currently, the Tobin Project is working to address four core questions:

Institutions of DemocracyWhat factors and institutions - of government, business, civil society, and beyond - are most central to the functioning of American democracy?

Government & Markets: What are the conditions that distinguish success from failure in the governance and regulation of the economy?

Economic Inequality: What are the consequences of the rise of income inequality in the U.S. – for the economy, society, and democracy?

National SecurityHow can the U.S. sustainably advance its national security interests given fiscal constraints and shifts in the global distribution of power?

Principles for Developing Strategic Research Questions:

The Tobin Project model is rooted in the careful and intentional development of core guiding questions for its research initiatives. While the Tobin Project continuously innovates on its approach, all initiatives aim to fulfill the following foundational criteria, integral to the Tobin Project’s mission:

  • Will the pursuit of this question facilitate research that would not have been done otherwise?
  • Does the question address an important problem in the world?  
  • Can the Tobin Project attract key scholars to work on this question with sustained interest?
  • If successful, will the initiative catalyze research by scholars not directly engaged in this project?
  • Could answers to this question potentially make a transformative contribution to public debate?