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What Exactly is a Think Tank?

A think tank doesn’t just catalogue ideas, but participates in and promotes the free exchange of ideas. While we seek to address a host of problems and propose solutions from a foundational stand point, our freedom and independence at the Acton Institute is a valuable asset. Some critics of think tanks simply assume they are only extensions of controlling interests or have little impact on the public debate.

Ideas often have the power to transform the thinking of those at the grassroots level of policy and thus equally influence those in the circles of power. Margaret Thatcher’s privatization reforms in the United Kingdom were significantly guided by the Institute of Economic Affairs. In addition, this institution played a substantial role in other reforms in the U.K. as well.

This is of course one example of many where think tanks play a vital role in formulating and shaping ideas. Christopher Demuth, president of the American Enterprise Institute, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal titled "Think Tank Confidential" and in it he said, “Think tanks serve as storehouses of ideas, patiently developed and nurtured, waiting for the crisis when practical men are desperately seeking a new approach, or for the inspired leader who sees the possibility of action before the crisis.”

With first class documentaries, commentaries, educational conferences, and publications, the Acton Institute is influencing the debate, unlike at any other time in our past, not just here in the United States but internationally as well. Our scholars and staff are also first class. We will always be committed to defending the message of faith, liberty, and economic freedom. It’s an essential message that resonates with freedom loving people who are also committed to a serious and transforming relationship with God.

Kris Alan Mauren
Executive Director