Sunrise over planet Earth in space

Discovery Institute: World Changers

Published in The Viewpoint

When Bruce Chapman and George Gilder founded Discovery Institute nearly 30 years ago, they envisioned it as a “distributive think tank,” one in which technology would unite the collaborative work of scholars around the country. It was a forward-thinking model that has served us well in 2020, a year in which Zoom meetings have replaced in-person gatherings, both personal and professional. Yet, as I reflect on the year gone by, it has also become clear that interactions by screen and telephone can never replace the innate human need for personal interaction with colleagues, friends, and neighbors. That sense of community — or belonging — is just as important as necessary moments of quiet solitude.

Contemplating all that has happened this year has given me a newfound appreciation for the community of friends and supporters of Discovery Institute. Although we are taught from a young age never to “take things for granted,” too often our daily lives are consumed by the mundane, menial, and the ordinary. In the year 2020, many of those ordinary events that comprise each day have become unusual, or even exceptional — chatting with a colleague in the lunch room, sending the kids off to school, dining at a favorite restaurant, or gathering together for worship, celebration, or mourning. These are the ordinary things in life that I have unwittingly taken for granted. I suspect that many of you feel the same way in this most peculiar of years.

But despite the loss of the ordinary, it has been an extraordinary year at Discovery Institute. It is a credit to the dogged pursuit of our mission by our board, fellows and, staff — all of which is made possible by the faithful support of our donors. I am humbled and deeply grateful. In a year of turmoil and uncertainty, we have risen to the challenge.

In this period of reflection, I have come to this conclusion: Discovery Institute is home to a talented and highly dedicated collection of world changers. In total, our organization is home to fewer than 100 people, comprised by our board, fellows, and staff. Yet the work of each individual — my colleagues and my friends — has positively shaped debates in science, law, public policy, technology, and the culture. That is not easy, and it doesn’t happen by accident, or absent purpose.

You can learn more about what we have accomplished together, despite the challenges, in the latest edition of the Discovery Institute Viewpoint newsletter. And please consider and end-of-year contribution by visiting

Thank you for standing with us through this incredible year of progress. You, too, are a world changer!

Steven J. Buri

President, Discovery Institute
Steven J. Buri was appointed President of Discovery Institute in December 2011. He joined the Institute in April 2000 as Executive Director and was named Vice President in 2005. Mr. Buri has served in various capacities in government at the local, state and federal levels. Steve was born and raised in the small farming community of Colfax, Washington and is a 1994 graduate of Washington State University (Double Major-Political Science, Criminal Justice). He has been a Seattle-Area resident for nearly 30 years.