history of discovery institute

Discovery-Institute-Office-Stairs
Discovery Institute office interior staircase
Photo by Nathan Jacobson

More Than a Think Tank

I remember a Seattle Weekly article circa 2000 — around the time that I was hired as Executive Director — that described Discovery Institute as a think tank where people “sit around a big table and think really hard.” Needless to say, the article was neither friendly, nor indicative of the role that think tanks really play in policy development. It missed a bigger point, too. Discovery Institute is more than a think tank. While we still maintain an interest in public policy, we are increasingly a cultural institution — one that examines and challenges the worldview assumptions and cultural influences that drive public policy. If policies and the culture flow like a river, we work at the headwaters. Other think tanks do admirable work in the rivers and tributaries. This unique approach is one that has developed over our twenty-five year history. For those of you who are not familiar, here is a brief retelling of that story.

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A Brief History of Discovery Institute

“Discovery Institute is a center for national and international affairs based in Seattle… Our programs are all inspired by a firm commitment to individual liberty, representative democracy, free enterprise, technological advancement, internationalism, and the enduring moral principles of civilized society… We think that good public policy requires healthy doses of exploration, civilized debate, and—above all—common sense about both the possibilities …

Seattle-from-Kerry-Park-1990s

Six Solutions for Seattle – Global City or Just Another Town?

METROPOLITAN Seattle - from Everett to Tacoma and from Puget Sound to the Cascade foothills - in the past decade has become a true international "Citistate," to use the term coined by syndicated columnist Neal R. Peirce. A Discovery Institute project, "International Seattle: Creating a Globally Competitive Community," is aimed at helping the region define a new strategy for increasing its international competitiveness. With the help of a 24-member advisory board and a host of volunteers, we have conducted interviews throughout the region and studied a dozen other cities' international programs. It was a breakthrough in 1990 when community-wide response to international concerns led to the creation of the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle. The "TDA" pulled together resources from the city of Seattle, King County, the Port of Seattle, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and organized labor, with a stated goal of making this region "one of North America's premier international gateways and commercial centers." Read More ›