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Our Mission
Anchor: Our Mission
The Paul Douglas Institute is a nonpartisan student-run public policy think tank.

Based at the University of Chicago, the Paul Douglas Institute is a nonpartisan nonprofit student-run public policy think tank. Inspired by the life and work of professor and Senator Paul H. Douglas, we seek to channel public policy interest on campus into evidence-based, collaboration-oriented, solution-minded projects as well as celebrate the value of public service.
To this end, offer technical assistance, produce rigorous social science research, and build bridges on policy issues. We use a multidisciplinary approach that is free from political affiliation. We often work with legislators and civic organizations. We welcome both research commissions and partnerships.

Our Principles

Policy Principles

             Towards protection to the underserved and disenfranchised.

                   In the legacy of Paul Douglas, we are committed to understanding how policy can be more committed to the most                                   underserved, more socially just, and fully committed to human dignity.

             Towards common goals.

                   We are committed to understanding how policy creation can be more participatory, collaborative, and consensus-based.


             Towards ethics and democracy.

                   We are committed to governance that is fully committed to democratic freedoms, transparent, accountable, and                                      participatory.    


Research Principles


                       We are committed to research free from partisanship and political affiliation.

                Rigorous and open inquiry.

                     We are committed to fostering the University of Chicago commitment to free expression, dialogue, and open-minded                              questioning.

Organizational Principles



                     We are committed to empowering student leadership and the research curiousities of our members.



                    We are committed to learning from faculty and practitioners to provide our members with the tools to conduct rigorous                          policy research and examine the ethical considerations of policy.



                      We are committed to building a warm, safe, and welcoming community founded on mutual respect, a diversity of                                     perspectives, and substantive debate. We are dedicated to ensuring that our members are proud of their work.


                       We are committed to building bridges between stakeholders, academia, practitioners, and communities.


Anchor: Our History
Our History

In 2017, our institute began when members of the University of Chicago Democracy Initiative saw an opportunity for students to make a real impact in the public discourse through research. UCDI is a civic organization on campus dedicated to improving the state of American democracy, and houses several initiatives including student political education, voter registration events, and the Citizen Bulletin, a nonpartisan weekly newsletter detailing the actions of local, state, and national elected officials.

In 2018, PDI became a federally registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

In 2019, PDI co-founded the Global Student Policy Alliance, a collective of student-run think tanks and policy organizations from around the world.


Today, PDI is comprised of 90 students who are actively involved in the organization as either researchers, leaders, or advisors.

Thus far, the organization has completed over 20 policy projects, and worked with governments, nonprofits, and legislators in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, Washington, D.C., Montgomery County, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Cambridge, U.K.

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