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  Think tank
Specificities and themes

Over the years, CERFE has also been involved in conceptual elaborations and in-depth examinations of themes concerning its research programme. CERFE calls these activities “think tank” activities to distinguish them from the usual ones of theoretical and empirical studies (see ). When acting as a think tank both in its contractual agreements and also in its voluntary work and non-profit activities CERFE aims to make a creative contribution to policymaking and to establishing new visions of reality, with a view to problem-solving. Within these activities there is also CERFE’s commitment as a member with consultative status of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

In conducting these activities, CERFE uses methodologies which often stem from social research of a qualitative type participative approaches, consultation of various actors (stakeholders, key persons, experts, etc.) and also proceeds to the study and analysis of the documentation and the relative scientific literature. It is worth stressing that the think-tank activities, although being different from traditional social research, must not in any way be viewed as extraneous to scientific research. In fact, they tie in with perspective studies and aim to use the available knowledge and to apply rigorous methodologies in order to analyse and forecast future trends and scenarios.

In carrying out these activities, CERFE makes available its experience and intellectual capital and knowledge accumulated over time. A typical way it operates as a think tank is also by activating its scientific and academic relations. In this picture, the think tank is organised much like a typical knowledge management activity that CERFE carries out also through researcher networks (see FRHS) or by starting up online discussions on new and unusual issues (see, for example, the e-conference on “epidemiological transition and urbanisation”).

The various themes dealt with in this sphere include urbanisation, glocalisation, the role of the Poor in the fight against poverty, the evaluation of development policies and actions.

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