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Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs

Research Trajectory

The new genius is a collaborative genius.

In today’s global environment, we can only generate real change and innovation through collaborations across the boundaries of disciplines, national borders, and institutional and personal identities.

Northwestern Buffett brings together the brightest minds to address critical global challenges that cannot be solved from a singular disciplinary or geographical perspective. Learn about our collaborative process, which helps groups produce research ideas and projects that generate substantive solutions.

Our research programming focuses on the processes of idea formation and incubation. Idea Incubation programs exist in three main forms, which can - but do not necessarily - lead into one another.


Trajectory steps: Buffett’s multi-phased approach to research

Idea Dialogue illustration
Step 1

Idea Dialogues engage a diverse group of scholars and experts in an informal conversation about a particular topic and/or research question to feel out prospects for a more concrete collaborative project. Groups that determine that their Idea Dialogues are ready for further consideration are invited to participate in the annual Idea Incubation Workshop.

Learn More About Idea Dialogues

Idea Incubation workshop logo
Step 2

The annual Idea Incubation Workshop reconvenes Idea Dialogue groups as Idea Streams for a weekend intensive. Idea Stream members brainstorm a prospective research project that addresses a global problem/SDG, and they pitch their project to a panel of judges from across different disciplines. Winning Idea Streams become Northwestern Buffett Working Groups.

Learn More About Idea Incubation Workshops

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Step 3

Northwestern Buffett Working Groups pursue the projects they pitched at the Idea Incubation Workshop, with Northwestern Buffett’s financial and administrative support, valued at more than $150,000 per year.

Learn More About Funding & Support

Join Us

We invite you to join us in taking risks and engaging in purposeful dialogue, working alongside colleagues, scholars, thought leaders, and expert practitioners to develop powerful research questions and concrete action plans. Learn more about the advantages of our Idea Incubation programs.