The Buffett Institute is currently funding the following interdisciplinary research groups, born out of "Big Ideas" proposals:
- Focus: The group investigates the political, social, legal, and normative underpinnings of successful and politically sustainable local, national, and global markets. Its goal is to replace one-size-fits-all recommendations with a deeper understanding of how legal infrastructures can facilitate investment and build trust and predictability, while protecting the rights and addressing the needs of all citizens.
- Leaders: Karen J. Alter (political science, law), Bruce Carruthers (sociology), Cristina Lafont (philosophy)
- Focus: Building on Northwestern’s existing research strengths in fields like law, engineering, business, energy and the environment, and the social sciences, this group examines the most pressing questions in climate change governance, including climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as geoengineering.
- Leaders: David Dana (law), Kimberly Gray (civil and environmental engineering), Klaus Weber (management)
- Focus: This group brings much-needed attention not only to the rich humanistic traditions of the non-West, but also to the relevance of those traditions for global development and public policy.
- Leaders: Rajeev Kinra (history), Laura Brueck (Asian languages and cultures)
- Focus: Conveners have joined forces to examine three phenomena over the long 20th century: the globalization of biomedicine, the codification of traditional medicine, and the constitutive role of the law in these processes.
- Leaders: Helen Tilley (history), Jeannette Colyvas (SESP), Carol Heimer (sociology), Ian Hurd (political science), Laura Pedraza-Farina (law), Rebecca Seligman (anthropology)
- Focus: This group seeks to improve public understanding by opening pathways beyond the tired alternation between naïve celebration of religion as the source of morality, community, and freedom, and denigration of religion as the root of global instability.
- Leaders: Elizabeth Shakman Hurd (political science), Brannon Ingram (religious studies)