Their Mission: IPS is a progressive think tank dedicated to building a more equitable, ecologically sustainable, and peaceful society. In partnership with dynamic social movements, they turn transformative policy ideas into action.
As Washington’s first progressive multi-issue think tank, the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) has served as a policy and research resource for visionary social justice movements for over four decades — from the anti-war and civil rights movements in the 1960s to the peace and global justice movements of the last decade. Some of the greatest progressive minds of the 20th and 21st centuries have found a home at IPS, starting with the organization’s founders, Richard Barnet and Marcus Raskin. IPS scholars have included such luminaries as Arthur Waskow, Gar Alperovitz, Saul Landau, Bob Moses, Rita Mae Brown, Barbara Ehrenreich, Roger Wilkins and Orlando Letelier.
Their Vision: They believe everyone has a right to thrive on a planet where all communities are equitable, democratic, peaceful, and sustainable.
IPS believes that true systems change happens through the power of social movements. To reach their shared vision, IPS activist-scholars work with grassroots groups, donors, policymakers, and other allies to shift public discourse, promote game-changing policy, build capacity of social movements, and grow the next generations of public scholars.
The story of IPS began at a high-powered State Department meeting of generals and defense industry executives in 1961, at the height of the Cold War. In the room were White House staffer Marcus Raskin and State Department lawyer Richard Barnet, who had joined the Kennedy Administration with hopes of systemic transformation. But after hearing the speeches and rhetoric of the officials that day, the two young public servants concluded that systemic change can only happen through the power social movements. Within two years, Raskin and Barnet had left the Kennedy Administration and founded the Institute for Policy Studies, where they could more freely “speak truth to power.”
For more than five decades, IPS scholar-activists have provided critical support for major social movements by producing seminal books, films, and articles; educating key policymakers and the general public; and crafting practical strategies in support of peace, justice, and the environment.
Since its founding by Raskin and Barnet, the organization has stood firmly on three key principles:
1. Public scholarship: Only in the nexus of policy research, advocacy, and grassroots activism can ideas be turned into action.
2. Independence: Speaking truth to power requires financial and programmatic independence from governmental funding and corporate influence.
3. Local, National, Global: partnering with allies and social movements on the ground, IPS work operates simultaneously on the local, national, and global levels because they believe that transformation requires engagement at every level.
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