Rethinking and Reshaping Research in Light of Dramatic Change
The Newman Institute’s Research Roundtable is an informal advisory group that has convened to help shape the Institute’s research agenda. Jack S. Nyman, Executive Director of the Institute, set the stage for the group at its formation. He observed that, under conditions of profound economic change, business as usual may itself become a speculative venture, and the Institute’s research plans should reflect this reality.
The members of our Research Roundtable are distinguished industry leaders. Sectors represented include real estate development and management, finance and capital markets, brokerage, economics, sustainability, urban planning, and public policy. This broad-spectrum representation is coupled with members’ immersion in the industry and their seasoned judgment. Such background will keep our research agenda responsive to both urgent issues and long-term real-world needs.
When the Roundtable first formed, the Executive Director posed the question: Should the Institute undertake peer-reviewed research? Several members speculated that much of the real estate industry and many of the executives close to the Institute are primarily interested in applied research. A key question is how to coordinate real estate and public policy concerns. This audience requires a collaboration that fosters both good public policy and a good economy, with full disclosure. For example, redevelopment efforts at the World Trade Center entail public and private investment. But that project has generated a dysfunctional paradigm: a barrier that in some ways defeats both interests. That wall must be lowered to reveal common ground.
Moving forward, the Research Roundtable will work to identify unmet research needs. These will include topics that extend beyond the areas traditionally associated with real estate, while addressing the dynamic and critical yet somewhat mainstream topics as well. Also, the Roundtable members will in some cases create white papers and reports. The Institute will strive to make its research products available to the widest possible audience by publishing them online as free downloads. Selected products will be available in hard copy and on CDs, too.
Public events are also an important means of disseminating knowledge. For example, our Sustainability Shoptalk series of public events fits squarely within our research mission. We convene practitioners at the forefront of their fields, including Roundtable members, to make formal presentations, trade shoptalk, and field questions from the audience. The series is proving a resounding success, and feedback from attendees is helping us identify and refine new topics for our research agenda.
The Roundtable holds the potential to contribute to our greater community in many ways. It also further facilitates the Institute’s engagement with the real estate industry.