MacArthur Awards for Creative & Effective Institutions

Tobin Project

Cambridge, Massachusetts | 2013 Award Recipient

Building a new model for policy-relevant research

Inspired by economics Nobel laureate James Tobin, the Tobin Project convenes and connects academics and policymakers to conduct research initiatives that address some of society’s most pressing problems and help transform public policy debates. 

In its seven years, the Tobin Project has built an interdisciplinary coalition of more than 350 scholars across 80 universities working together to generate research that will help address real-world problems. The result is a new understanding of major public issues and a new model for generating transformative research in the social sciences.

Among its successes, the Tobin Project demonstrated the need for a new conceptualization of regulation. This inquiry generated a range of new scholarship by leading academics, including original research that informed U.S. policy on issues ranging from risky financial products to comprehensive regulatory review. In its current work on understanding the potential consequences of inequality, the Tobin Project is working with economists and psychologists to explore how inequality influences individuals’ behavior and decision making, and how these influences might affect the broader society.

The Tobin Project is currently focused on the consequences of rising economic inequality, regulation and its role in the economy, and the sustainability of U.S. national security strategy. Its newest initiative is building a research agenda on how to strengthen and improve democracy in the United States, examining the history of American democracy, and looking in particular at the role of the corporation in this history.

The Tobin Project will use its $750,000 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions to build its cash reserve and explore how best to expand the capacity for scholars to identify new strategic research initiatives.

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