ISEA is one of the leading and politically independent think-tanks in the Czech Republic. Its main goal is to serve as a beacon to state institutions and civic society, supplying qualified and unbiased analyses of various social phenomena and bridging academic research and key public policy domains. It is dedicated to both basic and applied research and in fostering public debate on the fundamental questions facing Czech society, particularly in education, human resources, and competitiveness. ISEA contributes to the formation of politically and intellectually independent debate aimed at specifying the necessary steps of transformation that are required for the Czech Republic to participate in the European Union as an economically competitive, socially coherent, culturally open, and politically stable and trustworthy country. The Institute strongly believes that these goals may be achieved only via consistent and lasting evidence based contributions to the public debate. Towards this goal, the Institute publishes its research results widely through several channels, both professional and popular. The Institute has created over the ten years of its existence a relatively small, but highly qualified and motivated team of researchers and professionals who are shaping the Institute’s profile by creating and managing important projects. Currently ISEA counts among its researchers some of the most cited and publicly recognized Czech social scientists, who have led dozens of research projects funded by GDN, OECD, UNDP, the European Commission, the Czech Science Foundation, Open Society Fund, and many other domestic and international institutions. Recent books published by experts affiliated to ISEA have focused on educational inequalities and the reform of the educational system, corruption and anti-corruption policy, poverty and the welfare system, political participation and the transformation of civil society, all in historical and international perspective.
ISEA’s primary goal is to contribute to a society-wide debate of key issues facing the Czech Republic as it becomes ever more intertwined in the West European and Euroatlantic economic and socio-cultural environment. The research agenda of the Institute is largely devoted to the transformation of Czech society towards an efficient, knowledge-based economy.
ISEA thus contributes to the formation of politically and intellectually independent debate aimed at specifying the necessary steps of transformation that are required for the Czech Republic to participate in the European Union as an economically competitive, socially coherent, culturally open, and politically stable and trustworthy country. The dynamism of Czech society must be rooted in its human capital endowment and knowledge capital cultivated in a competitive environment.
The experience of many small and open European countries shows that the focus of a country’s potential towards these goals requires a consensus among political parties and their cooperation with civic society at large. However, recent Czech history suggests that the country has only reached such consensus with difficulty. Public discourse is often blocked by politicking and the public is often dissinterested in important issues. So far, there are only a few of institutions, both formal and informal, that can cultivate public discussion of various key issues. ISEA aims at filling this gap by seeking to enrich the public debate by formulating firm but strictly unbiased views on these issues and also by bringing to the forefront other issues that have been unexplored thus far.
The Institute strongly believes that these goals may be achieved only via consistent and lasting contributions to the public debate in the Czech Republic. It aims at building on professional and ethical standards that will allow it to become an authoritative voice in important issues of social, economic, and political transformation. Towards this goal, the Institute publishes its research results widely through several channels, both professional and popular. The Institute also serves as a frequent and unbiased opponent of often poorly designed and inconsistent plans of Czech political parties. The main goal of the Institute, however, is to serve as a beacon to state institutions and civic society, supplying qualified and unbiased analyses of various social phenomena and bridging academic research and public policy domains.
The Institute's main research fields
The Institute has created over the five years of its existence a relatively small, but highly qualified and motivated team of professionals who are shaping the Institute’s profile by creating and managing important projects. The Institute now has a wide enough profile among its fellows to be able to analyse many of the most discussed issues facing society. If needed, the core team is supplemented by external experts. The main priorities of the Institute are as follows:
q competitiveness and its economic conditions (tax system, investment allocation, capital markets and corporate governance, development of small and medium enterprises, corruption, private-public partnerships);
q development of human, cultural, social and knowledge capital (education, research and development, social and cultural development);
q development of the social structure of the Czech Republic towards a more meritocratic system based on principles of equal opportunity and social justice (the extent, principal dimensions and legitimacy of inequality, the role of the state, family and individuals in enhancing living standards, the role of private capital in social services, life-cycle financing instruments);
q conditions for civic society development (participation in political decision-making, enhancement of society’s cultural openness, taming of xenophobic tendencies within society, concept of national and European identity)
q the value system (fostering of a value system compatible with economic and social developments and for the expansion of liberal democratic principles).
The Institute publishes regular reports summarising its main research results, various activities of the Institute, and plans for the future. In addition, the Institute releases complex research reports devoted to individual projects. Lastly, the Institute uses the momentum of several key regular reports (EU reports, annual reports on the performance of the Czech economy, Transparency International reports) and publishes its own complementary studies with a goal of focusing public discussion on issues that the Institute believes deserve a more fundamental and qualified discussion than they receive.
The Institute’s activities
The Institute has assumed the role of a think-tank supplying qualified and unbiased analyses, and as an opinion-maker that influences the general public’s and political scene’s understanding of various issues. Particular importance is given to the process of “problem definition,” which should direct the project (and the public discussion it will invoke) towards relevant topics. The Institute is organised on the basis of projects whereby every project starts with an “in-house” analytical discussion of an issue, continues with research work and a public, expert discussion of the proposed alternatives (typically in form of a conference or a seminar). The project then culminates in a public presentation aimed at gaining support for the Institute’s views and increasing the popular awareness of the Institute’s work.
The Institute wants to influence key decision-makers, i.e. politicians, public administration, large businesses and important lobby groups. However, the Institute also communicates directly with the general public via various channels, such as:
Communication channels - a. Decision makers
q direct contacts
q seminars and conferences
q press conferences
q professional publications, research papers
q regular reports and publications of case studies.
Communication channels - b. General public
q articles in quality newspapers, weekly journals
q web-based presentations
q presentations of the Institute’s activities in public and private electronic media.
The Institute's funding
The Institute has acquired a seed grant from the Open Society Fund that allowed it to launch regular activities. Over the years of its existence the Institute has applied for several grants covering its key projects from various partners such as Global Development Network and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. In addition, the Institute actively seeks grants for analyses in areas of its interest. The Institute’s creed is to uphold a lean and flexible structure where minimum costs are required for the administrative and organisational tasks, so that most resources, both human and financial, are devoted to actual problem solving.