6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

What Role Do Think Tanks Play in Shaping Public Policy and Public Discourse in the United States?

Webcast available

Webcast Recap

Please join the Wilson Center, author and senior lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, James McGann, and a panel of leading experts to discuss the role think tanks play in shaping public policy and discourse.

In his latest book, The Fifth Estate: Think Tanks, Public Policy, and Governance, James G. McGann illustrates how policymakers have come to value the independent analysis and advice provided by think tanks and why it has become one of the defining characteristics of the American political system. Drawing on case studies in both foreign and domestic policy, McGann clarifies the correlation between think tank research and the policies enacted by the past three presidential administrations.


  • Lee Edwards

    Distinguished Fellow, Heritage Foundation
  • Bridget Lowell

    Chief Communications Officer, Urban Institute
  • James McGann

    Director, Think Tank and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania and Author of The Fifth Estate
  • Spencer Overton

    President, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (United States)
  • Richard Weitz

    Director, Center for Political-Military Analysis, Hudson Institute