Innovations for Successful Societies, Princeton University

  • NJ

About Us

Innovations for Successful Societies (ISS) is hosted jointly by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs and the Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice. The program started on a pilot basis in 2006 and became a research program in 2007. Princeton faculty members direct the program under the guidance of an advisory panel.

During the past 40 years, a number of low-income countries have achieved economic and political turnarounds of five years or more. Although these recoveries are often temporary, a few countries once considered fragile states have seen sustained improvement in institutional performance and economic growth. ISS asks what we can learn from these experiences.

Often the most innovative ideas are internally generated, framed by people who have deep knowledge of local conditions. ISS helps chronicle these ideas and the process of institutional change by enabling reformers to tell their unique stories. The interviews become part of an oral history archive and participants become part of a knowledge network. Case studies based on these conversations promote learning and become the basis for both practitioner-focused cross-cutting analysis and scholarly writing.

Building effective government institutions poses special challenges where resources are scarce. ISS supports public servants, citizens and scholars who lead change under difficult conditions. We provide insight from practical experience, plus a university-based forum for research and the exchange of ideas. ISS provides quick access to:

  • case studies that illuminate reform efforts worldwide
  • interviews of the people who played central roles
  • strategy notes, innovation profiles and other cross-cutting policy briefs
  • related research, databases and working groups for scholars and policy makers