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Our Mission

Policy Innovation through Philosophical Reflection

Since 1976, the mission of the Institute is to create policy innovations through normative analysis and critical reflection; our work engages academics, policy makers, and the public on pressing normative issues in public policy to make a lasting and beneficial impact on society.

The Institute has succeeded for decades in advancing this mission. In its early work on nuclear deterrence, human rights, immigration, and civic engagement, among other policy concerns, the Institute pioneered interdisciplinary research methods that brought philosophers, scientists, and policy makers into productive collaboration on issues of social importance. Interdisciplinary projects are a hallmark of the Institute's research portfolio, and this approach has become the benchmark for scholarly excellence in public philosophy. 


With this method, the Institute has advanced its mission in a variety of policy domains. For example, between 1997 and 2001, the Institute led efforts to bring together academic experts with political leaders in The National Commission on Civic Renewal. Between 2012 and 2016, members of the Institute led U.S. negotiations for the Paris Climate Accord. And currently, members of the Institute are engaging policy makers on the biosecurity implications of emerging technologies in the life sciences.    

The intellectual network of the Institute extends beyond George Mason University to policy-making organizations in Washington, D.C., including The Wilson Center, the World Resources Institute, the Center for Climate and Security, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, ASU’s Center for Science and Policy Outcomes, the Center for American Progress, and New America. Members of the Institute have held senior positions in the U.S. government and maintain active consultancy relationships with a variety of Federal agencies and congressional offices. Working with these partners, the Institute continues to inform policy debates with bold ideas and innovative scholarly activities aimed at improving public policy.


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