Acton Institute Makes Strong Showing in 2013 Global Think Tank Index

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Jan. 27, 2014)—The University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program ranked the Acton Institute among the top social policy and top overall U.S. think tanks with the release of its 2013 Global Go-To Think Tanks Report.   In a new category for the survey, now in its seventh year, Acton was listed at No. 17 among global think tanks for “best think tank conference” in recognition of general excellence in events and programming.

Highlights from the Report:

  • Acton Institute 11th in the Top Social Policy Think Tanks (13th in 2012)
  • Acton Institute 34th in Top Think Tanks in the United States (34th in 2012)
  • 10th in Best Advocacy Campaign (19th in 2012) for
  • In the new category “Best Think Tank Conference” Acton ranked 17th
  • There are 1,828 think tanks in the U.S. (more than twice the number in 1980) 

James G. McGann, director of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, and his research team conducted and published the detailed report which looked at 6,862 think tanks with nominations from 9,000 journalists, donors to organizations, and policymakers from 182 countries.  The program states that its “primary objective is to recognize some of the world’s leading public policy think thanks and highlight the notable contributions these institutions are making to government and civil societies worldwide … the ‘Think Tank Index’ has become the authoritative source for the top public policy institutions around the world.” The process of nominating organizations and ranking them is rigorous and yearlong.

“In the world filled with tweets and sound bites that are often superficial and politically charged, it is critical to know where to turn for sound policy proposals that address the complex policy issues that policymakers and the public face,” McGann said. “This index is designed to help identify and recognize the leading centers of excellence in public policy research around the world.”

Highly ranked in the “best conference” category, the Acton Institute sponsors numerous conferences and public events throughout the year. Established in 2005, Acton University is a four-day conference held each June in Grand Rapids exploring the intersection of virtue and individual liberty. The event consists of lectures and informal discussions on practical topics in free-market economics, public policy, popular culture, private charity, and entrepreneurship. In 2013, Acton welcomed nearly 900 participants from 73 countries. Lectures were presented by a distinguished 55-person faculty drawn from academia, business, and a number of religious traditions.

Additionally, the Toward a Free and Virtuous Society (FAVS) is the Acton Institute’s longest-running student outreach program. Designed for future scholars and religious leaders, FAVS conferences allow participants to study the moral foundations of freedom, the Christian tradition, and the concept of natural law. This three-day program culminates in the integration of Judeo-Christian morality and economic theory with everyday issues touching on poverty, labor, and globalization. A recently introduced program, Thriving Churches: Flourishing Communities, customizes the FAVS experience specifically for urban ministry advocates, helping them to transition their communities from a mentality of dependency to one of empowerment and self-sufficiency. Acton also works with the Indianapolis-based Liberty Fund to produce Liberty and Markets, an intensive survey of truth, liberty, and economics for Acton alumni who are enrolled in or have completed graduate studies.

About the Acton Institute
With its commitment to pursue a society that is free and virtuous, the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is a leading voice in the national environmental and social policy debate. The Acton Institute is uniquely positioned to comment on the sound economic and moral foundations necessary to sustain humane environmental and social policies.

The Acton Institute is a nonprofit, ecumenical think tank located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Institute works internationally to "promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles." For more on the Acton Institute, please visit

Interviews with Institute staff may be arranged by contacting John Couretas at (616) 454-3080 or at