In an interesting WashPo editorial today, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., of Harvard University brings up the interesting question about whether Academia is fulfilling its mission of contributing to public policy. He notes the trend that Academic research is getting ever more specialized and as a result less relevant to applications that Public Policy requires. In the void left by Academic Institutions, a growing number of public policy “think tanks” have rushed in to fulfill Public Policy needs. Often times, these so-called “think tanks” are merely the marketing agencies, dressed up in scholarly clothing, for various large corporate interests. See the Flint Hills Public Policy Institute (read Koch Industry Propaganda Arm) as a local example of this marketing effort which has been dressed up in innocent appearing academic clothing.
Think tanks have many a scholar readily available with a nice list of talking points that can be conveniently sold to state and national legislatures. The Wichita Eagle publishes reports the Flint Hills group provide like it is fair and balanced opinion/research.
A consumer warning: Beware of who funds the pretty info supplied by think tanks/public policy groups – for it just may be a nice looking Trojan Horse.
See the Washpo editorial here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/12/AR2009041202260.html?hpid%3Dopinionsbox1&sub=AR