Guest blog by A.Rong (LSE PhD) who has worked with Chinese think tank Rock Environment and Energy Institute (REEI).
In the academic year 2016/7, I came back to my home country China to conduct fieldwork. As my research topic is about Chinese civil society organisations on environmental governance, I conducted many interviews with environmental organisations in Beijing including REEI and since January 2017 I have worked with them as an intern.
REEI was co-founded by three professionals in the field of sustainable development in 2012, one of whom is an alumnus of LSE’s Department of Geography and Environment. The team has considerable experience in academic research, policy analysis, and NGO capacity building. REEI’s key working areas include carbon market, energy policy, and clean air policy.
REEI seeks to fulfil its social purposes mainly through two ways. One is knowledge production and spreading. As an independent think tank, REEI aims at thinking critically and voicing opinions from the perspective of society. The team engages with the issues of energy transition and the related topics, such as public health and social justice. Throughout producing research papers, reviews, and policy commentaries, briefings, the institute wishes to make the public debates on Chinese environment governance more diverse and rational.
The second way is that REEI aims to bridge various sectors such as government, NGOs, media, academia, and the public. The team hosts several seminars and conferences each year, which brings stakeholders from different countries and sectors together. The exchange of views and information in these occasions also brings benefits to Chinese environmental governance. On this point, if you wish to expand your social network in the area, REEI would be a valuable platform.
Several skills are essential at REEI and for career starters in particular, it’s an excellent opportunity to strengthen these skills.
As an independent think tank, reviews and reports are REEI’s core products. Thus, the team is very dedicated to guarantee the quality of every essay. I have to ensure that I cautiously and critically respond to the existing studies and make comments with an independent perspective.
REEI’s work requires me to keep learning new knowledge. Environmental governance is a broad topic, which involves energy economics, biology, public health, politics, behavioural science and others. To produce sound analysis, one needs to be aware of the diverse perspectives in the area and keep an open mind to new information and evidence. As my REEI colleagues have different academic backgrounds, I can always learn new ideas from them too.
Regarding output, a think tank is distinct from a research institute. The skills of translation are significant. As every essay has its purpose, the writers tailor the articles to suit the audience. For example, some of the essays are for policy advocacy. Although you may have read plenty of scientific studies, you must find a balance between endless scientific debates and concise policy suggestions. For seminars, you are expected to structure the essay in a strict academic style. But for a social media article, you need to tweak your studies and make sure it is easy going and readable for most people. In other words, you always need to adjust your logic flow and language use for different audiences.
Sometimes, there are international staff in the team and the working languages are English and Chinese so this is an added dimension to communicating well. I like the working atmosphere very much, which is professional and friendly.
Overall, it’s exciting to work for REEI and I appreciate having had this internship experience. If you have further questions, including about opportunities, please don’t hesitate to contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org.