The Heritage Foundation’s Rob Bluey and Bridgett Wagner were among presenters at this week’s Global Think Tank Virtual Town Hall. The meeting, organized by the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, brought together over 550 scholars and executives from the leading think tanks from around the world.
More than 90 organizations from every region of the world have contributed ideas to the University of Pennsylvania initiative, which was launched earlier this year to help lead an international response to the COVID-19 public health crisis and disruptions it has created.
Heritage Foundation President Kay C. James spoke at the kickoff event in April. At this week’s meeting, Bluey and Wagner presented recommendations they developed in conjunction with other think tank leaders.
As vice president of communications, Bluey leads a team responsible for Heritage’s creative, digital, editorial, marketing, media, news, and video operations. He spoke at the townhall about reinventing communications in the wake of COVID-19 and presented new ideas and operating models for think tanks. His working group was led by Milena Lazarevic of the European Policy Centre in Serbia and Paolo Magri Institute for International Political Studies in Italy.
"Now is the time for think tanks to apply out-of-the box techniques that are more innovative and attractive while responding to current challenges,” Bluey told attendees. “We must adapt for the ongoing crisis, while learning from this situation to become more effective in the long run.”
He pointed to Heritage’s National Coronavirus Recovery Commission as an example. Heritage brought together 17 leading experts to collaborate with the think tank’s scholars. The commissioners did this voluntarily, contributing their expertise in medicine, business, government, and human behavior.
The commission made more than 40,000 contacts with policymakers across the United States and 35 U.S. states adopted the commission’s top recommendations. Major media outlets continue to look to the commission as a trusted source.
Wagner addressed the public health crisis as a participant in a 35-person working group that brought together best practices and policies. They focused on information sharing, sought solutions for treatment of non-COVID-19 patients, and looked to technologies that could help defeat the pandemic and transform our health care systems.
“In an era of mobile populations, international travel, and global trade,” she noted, “it is even more important that we collaborate to share knowledge and best practices across governments, the private sector, NGOs and the think tank community.”
Heritage’s Anthony Kim, research manager and editor of the “Index of Economic Freedom,” also contributed to another working group on preparing national and international economic recovery strategies.
In a series of meetings, Kim highlighted the importance of economic freedom and free market policies in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and charting a practical course of economic rebound.
“I want to thank you and the over 1,500 policymakers, think tank scholars and executives for participating in this global effort to support the policymakers, and health care professionals who are on the front lines of this crisis and the elderly, poor, and vulnerable who are suffering through it,” said Jim McGann, director of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program. “They need our ideas and action and we must do everything in our power to respond.”