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Dr James G. McGann obituary

The long-time director of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania has died unexpectedly


On Monday 29 November 2021, Dr James G McGann, the long-time director of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly for all of us. "Jim" built up this programme and turned it into the most important and respected project for researching the work of think tanks worldwide. The associated ranking he is responsible for is eagerly awaited every year within and beyond the global think tank community.

Jim McGann was a cooperation partner, a constructively critical observer and analyst of his own work, and also a friend and companion for many staff members at the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Germany and abroad. Our great common ground was the global perspective: whether in Latin America, the Middle East, Asia or Africa - and of course in Europe and the US - he and the TTCSP were represented everywhere with "Think Tank Summits" at which the "community" regularly came together and will hopefully continue to do so. The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung is part of this community and these events have been, not least for us, an irreplaceable opportunity for exchange with our partners worldwide.

For Jim, the most important concern was always to contribute to the further development of think tanks, to identify the current challenges for them and to look for solutions - as cooperatively as possible and with the participation of all the different perspectives and interests. In his work, Jim was as impartial as he was critical, and promoted "newcomers" wherever possible.

In recent months, Jim had been taking care of how to continue his life's work even after his career at the university. His death came in the midst of the preparations for the global think tank summit in Bahrain, and just a few days ago, various colleagues were in touch with him in this context. Him, who was available around the clock and who always responded quickly and directly, we have now lost just as suddenly. The global think tank community and among them the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung owe a lot to James McGann. We will not forget him and will help to ensure that his life's work is continued.     


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