Brookings Institution
MottoQuality. Independence. Impact.
TypePublic Policy Think Tank
Headquarters1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW
LocationWashington, D.C.

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C.[1] Originally a division of Washington University in St. Louis through founder Robert S. Brookings' service as Chancellor of Washington University, Brookings is one of America's oldest think tanks, and conducts research and education in the social sciences, primarily in economics, metropolitan policy, governance, foreign policy, and global economy and development.[2][3] Their stated mission is to "provide innovative and practical recommendations that advance three broad goals: strengthen American democracy; foster the economic and social welfare, security and opportunity of all Americans; and secure a more open, safe, prosperous and cooperative international system."[1] Brookings states that its scholars "represent diverse points of view" and describes itself as non-partisan.[1][4]

Media descriptions of Brookings range from liberal to centrist;^ however, despite its left-of-center reputation, some U.S. pundits have criticized the work of Brookings' foreign policy scholars for being too supportive of Bush administration positions.[5][6]

The organization's president, Strobe Talbott was United States Deputy Secretary of State under President Clinton. Brookings employs five research vice presidents: Carlos Pascual (former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and senior director on the National Security Council staff), Lael Brainard (a former White House Deputy National Economic Adviser and Chair of the Deputy Secretaries Committee on International Economics during the Clinton Administration), William Gale (a former senior staff economist for the Council of Economic Advisers under President Bush), Bruce Katz, and Pietro Nivola.


Brookings as an institution produces an Annual Report.[7] The Brookings Institution Press publishes books and journals from the institution's own research as well as authors outside the organization.[8] The books and journals they publish include Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy, Globalphobia: Confronting Fears about Open Trade, India: Emerging Power, Through Their Eyes, Taking the High Road, Masses in Flight and Stalemate to name a few. In addition, books, papers, articles, reports, policy briefs and opinion pieces are produced by Brookings research programs, centers, projects and, for the most part, by experts.[9][10]

Policy influenceEdit

Brookings claims to have contributed to the creation of the United Nations, the Marshall Plan, the Congressional Budget Office, as well as influencing policies of deregulation, broad-based tax reform, welfare reform, and foreign aid.[1]

Of the 200 most prominent think tanks in the U.S., the Brookings Institution's research is the most widely cited by the media,[11][12] and the third most-cited of all public policy institutes by Members of Congress, behind only the Heritage Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union.[13] In a 1997 survey of congressional staff and journalists, Brookings ranked as the second-most influential and first in credibility among 27 think tanks.[14] More over, “Brookings and its researchers are not so concerned, in their work, in affecting the ideological direction of the nation” and rather tend “to be staffed by researchers with strong academic credentials.”[14] Along with the more conservative American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation, Brookings is generally considered one of the three most influential policy institutes in the U.S.[15]

Political stanceEdit

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Brookings describes itself as independent and non-partisan.[4][16] Media descriptions of Brookings range from liberal to centrist. The New York Times has referred to the organization as liberal, liberal-centrist, and centrist.[17][18][19][20][21][22] The Washington Post sometimes describes Brookings as liberal.[23][24][25] The Los Angeles Times describes Brookings as liberal-leaning and centrist.[26][27][28] In 1977, Time Magazine described them as the "nation's pre-eminent liberal think tank."[29] The organization is described as centrist by the progressive media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.[12][30][31][32]

Some liberals argue that despite its left-of-center reputation, Brookings foreign policy scholars have been overly supportive of Bush administration policies abroad.[5][6] The Atlantic's Matthew Yglesias, for example, has pointed out that Brookings' Michael O'Hanlon frequently agrees with—and appears on stage with—scholars from conservative organizations such as the American Enterprise Institute, The Weekly Standard, and the Project for a New American Century.[5] Similarly, Brookings fellow and research director Benjamin Wittes is a member of the conservative Hoover Institution's Task Force on National Security and Law.[33] The Brookings Board of Trustees include prominent Republicans such as Kenneth Duberstein, a former chief of staff to Ronald Reagan, and prominent Democrats, such as former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.[34] Its scholars include former government officials hailing from both Democratic and Republican administrations, as well as many who have not served in government and do not advertise a party affiliation.


Brookings was founded in 1916 as the Institute for Government Research (IGR), which they claim was "the first private organization devoted to analyzing public policy issues at the national level."[35]

The Institution's founder, philanthropist Robert S. Brookings (18501932), originally financed the formation of three organizations: the Institute for Government Research, the Institute of Economics, and the Robert Brookings Graduate School, which was formally a part of Washington University in St. Louis.[3] The three were merged into the Brookings Institution in 1927.[3]

During the Great Depression economists at Brookings embarked on a large scale study commissioned by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to understand the underlying causes of the depression. Brookings' first president Harold Moulton and other Brookings' scholars later led an effort to oppose President Roosevelt's New Deal policies because they thought such measures were impeding economic recovery.[36] With the outbreak of World War II, Brookings researchers turned their attention to aiding the administration with a series of studies on mobilization.

In 1948, Brookings was asked to submit a plan for the administration of the European Recovery Program. The resulting organization scheme assured that the Marshall Plan was run carefully and on a businesslike basis.[37]

In 1952, Robert Calkins succeeded Moulton as president of the Brookings Institution. He secured grants from the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations that put the Institution on a strong financial basis. He reorganized the Institution around the Economic Studies, Government Studies, and Foreign Policy Progams. In 1957, the Institution moved from Jackson Avenue to a new research center near Dupont Circle on Massachusetts Avenue.[38]

Kermit Gordon assumed the presidency of Brookings in 1967. He began a series of studies of program choices for the federal budget in 1969 entitled "Setting National Priorities". He also expanded the Foreign Policy Studies Program to include research in national security and defense. After the election of Richard Nixon to the presidency in 1968, the relationship between the Brookings Institution and the White House deteriorated. Yet throughout the 1970s, Brookings was offered more federal research contracts than it could handle.[39]

By the 1980s, the Institution faced an increasingly competitive and ideologically charged intellectual environment. The need to reduce the federal budget deficit became a major research theme as well as investigating problems with national security and government inefficiency. Bruce MacLaury, fourth president of Brookings, also established the Center for Public Policy Education to develop workshop conferences and public forums to broaden the audience for research programs.[40]

In 1995, Michael Armacost became the fifth president of the Brookings Institution and led an effort to refocus the Institution's mission heading into the 21st Century. Under Armacost's direction, Brookings created several interdisciplinary research centers such as the Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, which has brought attention to the plight of cities, and the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies, which brings together specialists from different Asian countries to examine regional problems.

Strobe Talbott became president of Brookings in 2002. Shortly thereafter, Brookings launched the Saban Center for Middle East Policy and the John L. Thornton China Center. In July 2007, the Institution announced the creation of the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform to be directed by senior fellow Mark McClellan.

Named to Nixon's "Enemies List"Edit

During the administration of President Richard M. Nixon, Brookings was named to Nixon's famous enemies list, due to its criticism of Nixon's domestic and foreign policies. Nixon-administration advisor Charles Colson even proposed firebombing the Brookings Institution and stealing politically damaging documents while firefighters put the fire out.[41][42][43][44]


Brookings focuses on five main areas of research: Economic Studies, Foreign Policy, Governance, Global Economy and Development, and Metropolitan Policy.

The five main research programs are:

Policy centers include the following:

Operational centers include the following:

Non-research programs include the following:

In September 2006, Brookings announced the founding of The John L. Thornton China Center, a major new center focused on the study of Chinese politics and policy, with support from former President and COO of Goldman Sachs John L. Thornton. In November 2006, Brookings announced the opening of its first-ever overseas center, the Brookings-Tsinghua Center at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. In July 2007, the Institution announced the creation of the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform to be directed by senior fellow Mark McClellan and the opening of the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar.


Brookings currently has over 140 resident and nonresident scholars.[45] Some of Brookings' notable resident scholars:

Previous scholars include Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Political Affairs at the UN Ibrahim Gambari. Stéphane Dion, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and Leader of the Official Opposition also served as a senior research fellow.


At the end of 2004 the Brookings Institution had assets of $258 million. It spent $39.7 million in that year. According to its annual report,[46] the largest contributors in that year included the Pew Charitable Trusts, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation; the governments of the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Others can be found listed at

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 About Brookings
  2. Brookings Institution Encyclopedia Britannica.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 [1]
  4. 4.0 4.1 Brookings Research
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Very Serious Indeed by Matthew Yglesias, ‘’Atlantic Monthly,’’ August 24, 2007
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Truth Behind the Pollack-O'Hanlon Trip to Iraq by Glenn Greenwald,
  7. Brookings Annual Report
  8. Brookings Institution Press
  9. Brookings Press Blog
  10. Brookings Institution Press: Books
  11. "A Measure of Media Bias" by Tim Groseclose and Jeff Milyo, December 2004.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Study Finds First Drop in Think Tank Cites by Michael Dolny, ‘’FAIR’’, May/June 2006
  13. "A Measure of Media Bias" by Tim Groseclose and Jeff Milyo, September 2003.
  14. 14.0 14.1 War of Ideas: Why Mainstream and Liberal Foundations and the Think Tanks they Support are Losing in the War of Ideas in American Politics by Andrew Rich, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Spring 2006
  15. Happy Birthday, Heritage Foundation by Jacob Weisberg, Slate, January 9, 1998
  16. Obama repudiates ex-pastor by Joseph P. Williams, ‘’Boston Globe’’, April 30, 2008
  17. Next Generation of Conservatives (By the Dormful) by Jason DeParle, ‘’New York Times’’, June 14, 2005
  18. Silicon Valley's New Think Tank Stakes Out 'Radical Center' by Neil A. Lewis, ‘’New York Times’’, May 15, 1999
  19. ECONOMIC VIEW; Friedman And Keynes, Trading Pedestals by Tom Redburn, ‘’New York Times’’, September 24, 2000
  20. Marshall A. Robinson, 83, Former Foundation Chief, Dies by Wolfgang Saxon, ‘’New York Times’’, January 13, 2006
  21. Air Force's Newest Jet Fighter Is in Fierce Fight, in Capitol by Elizabeth Becker, ‘’New York Times’’, September 8, 1999
  22. The Way to Save ‘’New York Times’’, February 20, 2006
  23. Stumping for Attention To Deficit Disorder by Lori Montgomery, ‘’The Washington Post’’, June 21, 2007
  24. The Unbelievable Karl Rove by Dan Froomkin, ‘’’’, November 13, 2006
  25. 2003 Budget Completes Big Jump in Spending by Glenn Kessler, ‘’The Washington Post’’, April 15, 2002
  26. Parties Suggest They'd Yield for Stimulus Pact by Maura Reynolds and Richard Simon, ‘’Los Angeles Times’’, January 17, 2008
  27. U.S. Won't Say Who Killed Militant by Josh Meyer, ‘’Los Angeles Times’’, February 2, 2008
  28. A green light to genocide by Goldberg, ‘’Los Angeles Times’’, July 24, 2007
  29. The Other Think Tank Time Magazine, September 19, 1977
  30. Sam Husseini, "Brookings: The Establishment's Think Tank," Extra!, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (November/December 1998).
  31. Lawrence Soley, "Brookings: Stand-In for the Left," Extra!, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (1991).
  32. Michael Dolny, "Think Tanks in a Time of Crisis," Extra!, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (March/April 2002).
  34. About Brookings Trustees
  35. Brookings Institution History Brookings Institution.
  36. Brookings History: The Depression.
  37. Brookings History: War and Readjustment.
  38. Brookings History: Academic Prestige.
  39. Brookings History: National Doubts and Confusion.
  40. Brookings History: Setting New Agendas.
  41. Democracy Now! interview with John Dean and Daniel Ellsberg
  42. 'Insanity' in Nixon's White House Los Angeles Times, February 18, 2003.
  43. LA Times Archives - Insanity' in Nixon's White House Presidential scholars hear about 1971 plan to firebomb a think tank, from John Dean.
  44. Dean, John. Blind Ambition, 1976, ISBN 0-671-81248-3. p 35–39.
  45. List of Brookings Experts
  46. Brooking's Annual Report

External links Edit

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