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Research themes & topic areas

13 May 2010

Democratic Governance

Effective democratic governance includes the capability of citizens to hold the government accountable for its actions and inaction. Transparency, access to information, and domestic and international public pressure represent part of the available international toolkit for promoting accountability. OSI is dedicated to promoting democratic governance in countries where the Soros network operates, through shaping governmental policies and advocating for democratic reforms.


The role of education in promoting open societies cannot be overstated. Education reforms directly impact fundamental principles of social organization. This thematic group encourages research on issues such as the role of education in ensuring equal opportunities, minority access to education, and the ability of education systems to cope with trends of globalization and modernization.

Human Rights

An open society is characterized by reliance on the rule of law, the existence of democratically elected governments, diverse and vigorous civil society, and respect for minorities and minority opinions. The defense of human rights is central to open society promotion. This thematic group encompasses research aimed at advancing the equal treatment of all citizens, respect for minority opinions, equal access to services, education and information, and other human rights issues.

Media and Information

While the emergence of democratic regimes in post-communist societies brought an end to institutionalized political censorship, officials in many countries are adept at finding ways to stifle investigative journalism. Within the media itself, serious questions concerning minority representation, public access, and the development of professional standards demand further investigation. Media research in this thematic area focuses not only on media and media reform per se, but also on more general issues of anti-corruption policy, democratic governance, modernization, and globalization, as well as reassessments of the relationship between democracy, open society and new information technologies.

Poverty reduction

Poverty stands as a huge barrier to the expansion and strengthening of democratic norms. OSI continues to be dedicated to working with activists and researchers advancing policy expertise on such issues as economic development and microfinance policy, regional development policy, land reform, access to information, and public health policy that can help combat poverty and inequality. Working groups in this thematic area focus on specific marginalized groups as well as issues of poverty reduction more generally.

Public Health

Since 2002, IPF has been working closely with the OSI Public Health Programs to promote evidence-based health policies focusing on social inclusion, human rights, and justice. Each year, these two OSI programs have jointly announced several specific public health-related topic areas, such as reproductive health policy, pharmaceutical policy, tobacco control policy, mental health policy, and health policies tailored to meet the needs of minorities.

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