For almost a century, the Brooking Institution, currently lead by a Russia specialist, has been helping the U.S. government shape both its domestic and foreign policies.

Photo: AP

Name: The Brookings Institution


Established: 1916

Location: Washington, DC

President: Strobe Talbott

A traveling woodenware salesman turned successful businessman created the institute that would become the Brookings Institution in 1916. 

In the aftermath of World War I, Robert Somers Brookings of St. Louis, Missouri, felt that Washington, DC needed an institute to research public policy and train civil servants. Thus the Institute for Government Research, later renamed the Brookings Institution, was born.  

In its nearly 100-year-long history, the Brookings Institution has trained scores of public servants, published thousands of research reports and advised governments on issues ranging from the federal budget to foreign policy.

Brookings is currently led by its president, Nelson Strobride Talbott III, a diplomat, journalist and a Russia specialist. 

A former Rhodes Scholar, Talbott is known for having translated Nikita Khrushchev’s memoirs while studying at Oxford University. Talbott covered U.S.-Soviet relations for many years as a Time magazine correspondent and authored books on disarmament and U.S. foreign policy. 

In the administration of President Bill Clinton, another Rhodes Scholar, Talbott served as ambassador at large, deputy secretary of state and a point person on U.S.-Soviet relations. He became president of the Brookings Institution in 2002. 

Brookings has played an important role in U.S. history. Its scholars were instrumental in drafting legislation to create the first U.S. bureau of the budget in the 1920s. Brookings specialists authored a report that provided the outline for the Marshall Plan, the post-World War II aid program for war-ravaged Europe. 

In a speech to honor the institute’s 50th anniversary in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson complimented Brookings scholars on their “painstaking research,” “objective writing” and “imaginations that questioned the ‘going’ way of doing things” and “proposed alternatives.” 

More recently, Brookings experts have weighed in on issues of healthcare reform, globalization, the war on terror and climate change, among others.

Today, Brookings runs research programs on economics, business, education, law, defense, health, technology, social policy, international relations, and many other topics. More than 300 experts in government and academia make up the Brookings intellectual community. 

In addition to holding meetings and seminars on important public policy topics, these scholars write books for the institute’s publishing house, Brookings Institution Press, and blog for its website, 

The institute cites its three main goals as to “strengthen American democracy, foster the economic and social welfare, security and opportunity of all Americans, and secure a more open, safe, prosperous and cooperative international system.”