The Oakland Institute is a policy think tank whose mission is to increase public participation and promote fair debate on critical social, economic and environmental issues in both national and international forums.
The Oakland Institute’s trademark is to work in coalitions and networks to strengthen social movements, especially as we forge multi-cultural, cross-border and cross-class alliances. As a policy think tank our work is unique (in that we are bringing new approaches to social change including the awareness of economic, social and cultural rights) as we work with grass roots constituency (faith-based, farm workers, immigrant rights groups, Black farmers, among others) and help bridge policy think tanks with activist networks and social movements.
The Institute engages in three main areas of interrelated program work:
1. Bringing a social and economic human rights lens to organizing and policy work
2. Reframing the debate on security
3. Building strategic alliances to strengthen popular struggles nationally and internationally
The Institute addresses this work through education and advocacy activities in national and international forums. Our aim is not just to come up with a list of new policy solutions but to reframe the basic terms on which public debate takes place. Our goal is to stimulate public discussion and debate while creating an informed citizenry that can craft a new vision of action for the future.
Our Approach: Criteria and Fellows Program
We believe that if progressives hope to stimulate broad discussion and influence the nation’s political agenda we must be more successful at promoting our core values and in getting alternative narratives in front of policy makers and the public. Therefore, we look for investigative and organizing opportunities and which meet the following five criteria:
• Promote social economic justice
• Strengthen collaboration and strategic alliances to advocate for progressive change
• Change public perception by facilitating the emergence of new voices into policy debates
• Develop local-global linkages
• Uphold international law, treaties and accompanying conventions and covenants to ensure our advocacy efforts are not dismissed as ideological fantasy
Recognizing that a movement that can counter the conservatives must have thinkers and leaders who can engage, motivate and mobilize people on a deep, personal level, our Fellows Program and our communications strategy is successfully creating an international echo chamber for progressive ideas, where a critical mass of thinkers, writers, and practitioners can reinforce one another’s proposals.
OI’s Fellows Program and our elaborate contacts on the ground are key to the success of our work. For instance, while responding rapidly on current issues (food aid, foreign policy, biosafety negotiations, etc.), the Institute has generated policy reports and policy briefs and then through its communications strategy and the community-base of the partner organizations that we collaborate with, disseminated information to a broad and diverse constituency, resulting in many important policy changes.
In addition our Fellows Program is making visible the leaders in social movements: the next generation of progressive thinkers and activists who are on the ground who know what is and what is not working. Our Fellows program features a different breed of “expert” – Individuals who are able to carry the alternative narrative to the mainstream; who can communicate persuasively and often personally, in clear, compelling language, about the issues that affect them and their communities. Our experts are a mix of well-known people with proven track records, and commentators who are beginning to speak and write on important topics, individuals working on their first books, and journalists and researchers working on ground -breaking reports. This is helping build a vibrant inter-generational community with a common commitment to democratic values. They come from a variety of backgrounds, including the ethnic press, universities, advocacy organizations, NGOs and community groups. Diversity – ethnic, geographic, economic and cultural – is highlighted. All are creative, innovative thinkers with real-world experience in their issue areas.
To learn more about the Oakland Institute's Fellows click Here.