Center for Youth and Communities

The Heller School for Social Policy and ManagementReturn to this website's homepageBrandeis University

    Think Tank Description

    Meetings. Think Tank meetings typically take place at Brandeis University four times during the academic year from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm and include breakfast and lunch. Individual Think Tanks are tailored to meet the needs and interests of its membership; for example, a group can choose to share best practices or campus news during part of the meeting.

    Meeting Components.

    • Discussion: The topic and discussion leaders are designated ahead of time by the group.  Members of the group conduct this portion of the meeting on the assumption that the expertise exists within the group. It is very rare that an outside person leads the discussion. Members can access to problem-focused agendas and timely readings prior to each meeting.
    • Lunch: There is always time for good food and informal conversation. Some Think Tanks elect to spend time during lunch to discuss issues of particular interest to the group, such as sharing best practices or news from members’ campuses.
    • Round Robin: Time is allotted at each meeting for individuals to participate in a round robin or "kitchen cabinet" discussion, which enables members to seek advice and support from one another. Many members occupy a unique position on their campus and often have no colleagues available who can understand the issues from their perspective. These discussions are kept confidential to encourage frankness so that the discussions are of real value to members.
    • Sample Think Tank Topics and Agendas.


    Members. Think Tanks are successful because of members’ ability to be creative, collaborative, and change-oriented, and to act as problem-solvers and leaders within their institutions. A diversity of institutions and individuals is actively sought. Periodically members work together on group projects, such as published articles, and conference presentations. Membership is capped at 20 to insure the quality of the discussion.

    Think Tank Coordinator. Typically a long-term member of the group, the coordinator chairs each meeting, support discussion leaders with meeting facilitation, participates in membership recruiting efforts, and collaborates with Think Tank staff on the assessment and improvement of the Think Tanks.

    Discussion Leaders. Each meeting discussion is led by a member of the group. Discussion leaders are not expected to be experts on the topic.

    CYC staff members support the Think Tanks by:

    • working collaboratively with the Think Tank Coordinators representing each group and attending the meetings,
    • drafting meeting agendas and conducting literature reviews to identify theoretical and practical readings appropriate for each session – sometimes in collaboration with discussion leaders,
    • insuring that meeting materials and other communications are made available to members in a timely fashion, handling meeting logistics and food arrangements, and maintaining the Think Tank web pages,
    • conducting periodic satisfaction surveys.

    Website. Each Think Tank member has access to a unique password-protected Members Page to which Think Tank resources, such as topics for the academic year, meeting materials, and membership rosters, are posted. The Members Pages also serve as clearinghouses for information, such as campus policies and practices, that members have identified as central to their work.

    Pre-Meeting Materials. Meeting materials, including agendas, required readings, additional resources, a membership roster, and driving and parking directions are posted to a web page prior to each meeting. 

    Meeting Schedule and Fees. Think Tank members pay an annual fee to cover some of the costs of administering the program. Brandeis intentionally keeps the membership fees low so that individuals from resource-poor institutions can participate. The annual fee for membership is $750.00 for four meetings.

    Think Tank home page

    Copyright 2018 • Brandeis University • All rights are reserved