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28 - 30 September, 2016 • Montreal, Canada

Global Think Tank Summit Logo


Wednesday, September 28


Welcoming Remarks

16:00 - 17:30

Opening Plenary Session

The Rise of Populism, Nationalism, Nativism and Protectionism and Their Impacts on Politics and Public Policy

A dynamic panel of journalists and senior policy makers will explore the central themes of the summit. These panellists shape elite and popular opinion; wrestle with global policy issues on a daily basis; and understand the rise of, and challenges to, a globalized world order.


Opening Reception, Followed by Dinner (Off-site)


Keynote Addresss by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada

The Power of Inclusion

The Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, will explore some of the key current foreign policy challenges and discuss how think tanks can help policy makers and the public understand and respond to policy challenges at the regional and global levels.

Thursday, September 29

7:30 - 8:30

Informal Networking Breakfast

8:30 - 9:00

The Global Think Tank Community: The Role of National, Regional and Global Networks

9:00 - 9:30

Plenary Session II

Responding to Globalization and Its Discontents: Bridging the Gap Between Think Tanks, Politics and the Public

Most think tanks did not anticipate or fully understand the issues driving the Brexit vote or the popular support for it. Think tanks, journalists and political pundits also failed to predict the rise of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump and the issues and policy proposals that have since come to define the 2016 US presidential campaign. These disruptive candidates and movements pose a clear challenge to conventional thinking and politics and a clear threat to global institutions and global governance. What is not clear is the response that think tanks will — or should — take and how to address the discontent driving populist movements around the globe.

10:30 - 10:45

Health Break

10:45 - 12:30

Plenary Session III

Using Technology and Strategic Communications to Effectively Engage Policy Makers and the Public

In the digital environment it now seems that almost everyone has an opinion on almost everything. In an era of information dominance, how do think tanks maintain their position as trusted sources of analytical rigour, research acumen and policy expertise? How do think tanks, usually somewhat formal and hierarchical institutions, best engage in a new media space that thrives on nimble organizations?

12:30 - 14:00

Luncheon and Keynote Address

A Post-truth World? The Crisis of Trust and Democracy Today

Kenote Address: Gillian Tett, US Managing Editor, Financial Times

14:15 - 15:15

Breakout Session One

Policy Challenges

  1. Free Trade, Dead or Alive? Economic Nationalism vs. Economic Internationalism
  2. Waves, Walls and Workable Solutions: Meeting the Challenge Posed by the Refugee and Migration Crisis

Organizational Challenges

  1. If You Aren't Part of the Solution, You Are Part of the Problem; Or, Why Quality, Independence and Integrity Matter
  2. Big Ideas, Big Data & Small Tweets: Think Tanks, Technology and Policy Advice
15:15 - 15:30

Health Break

15:30 - 16:30

Breakout Session Two

Policy Challenges

  1. Economic Inequality and the Rip Currents of National, Regional and Global Populism
  2. Does Populism Signal the End of Global Governance and Intergovernmental Organizations or a New Beginning?

Organizational Challenges

  1. Transforming Policies and Perceptions in the Face of Increased Public Scrutiny
  2. Best Practices for Recruiting and Retaining Think Tank Scholars and Executives
16:30 - 17:00

Breakout Session - Chair Reports and Discussion

17:15 - 22:35

Reception and Dinner (Off-Site)

Standing Up for the Power of Ideas

Kenote Address: Nicolas Véron, Senior Fellow, Bruegel, and Visiting Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics

Friday, September 30

7:00 - 9:00

Informal Networking Breakfast

9:00 - 9:30

Keynote Address

Income Inequality in Advanced Economies: The Social and Economic Impact of a Generation Growing Up Poorer Than Their Parents

Keynote Address: Anu Madgavkar, Partner, McKinsey Global Institute (Mumbai)

9:30 - 10:30

Plenary Session IV

The Need for Think Tanks to Innovate: Catalysts for Ideas, Innovation and Action

The session is intended to demonstrate how think tanks are responding to the article in The Washington Post — “ Think Tanks Must Innovate or Die” — with a specific focus on policy innovation and impact. A shortage of core funding support and the growth of an information-rich environment require think tanks to be innovative and deft. This panel will examine how think tanks are delivering innovative policies, programs and policy advice in the face of a changing operating environment.

10:30 - 10:45

Health Break

10:45 - 12:00

Plenary Session V

A closing panel on ideas and conclusions generated by the summit.

12:00 - 12:30

Conclusions and Closing Remarks - Summit Organizers


Closing Lunch