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Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs

Why Incubate?

How does curiosity become a quest? Where do our research questions come from? How do we turn a hunch into a project that can respond to today's most significant challenges? Northwestern Buffett’s Idea Incubation Process offers Northwestern faculty unique opportunities to explore new questions on issues of global significance and workshop approaches to addressing them alongside practitioners, community partners, and scholars from across disciplines.

Our Research Model Encourages...

Intellectual Risk-Taking

Through our research activities, transdisciplinary groups of researchers center an idea, discussing it from different perspectives and angles. We cultivate an informal and collegial atmosphere that fosters inclusive brainstorming.

Bold, Creative Thought

Substantive change requires creative approaches. Our activities promote dialogue and iterative design, with the aim of stimulating provocative research questions and devising research projects with the potential for real-world impact.


Drawing on expertise across academic fields and beyond the borders of our countries, institutions, concepts, and positions, our research trajectory assists scholars in establishing and leveraging cooperative relationships.

Benefits of Participation

  • Meet colleagues with shared research interests
  • Discover points of connection for future collaborations
  • Experiment with new ideas 
  • Develop provocative research questions and creative projects
  • Receive research funding and administrative support (if collaboration becomes a Northwestern Buffett Working Group)
  • Spark ideas for new research projects
  • Build relationships with other faculty and global community partners

To learn more, read our Faculty Stories or explore our Idea Incubation Process.