Players

Idea Generators & Opinion Leaders

An excerpt from Green to Gold (page 81):

"The media can spread or kill ideas, depending on the coverage. But reporters get their leads from somewhere. Over the last few decades, think tanks have provided many of the ideas that have framed the public policy agenda and shaped the political debate...To stay on top of the leading ideas that set the framework for environmental and social strategy, companies need to monitor these important idea generators."

Think tanks

A few think tanks in particular have had a large impact on public discourse. See for example:

And in the environmental realm, a few players have made big waves:

See also Columbia University Library's longer, more comprehensive list of policy centers.

Academia

Many universities have significant resources dedicated to environmental and social issues, with focused degree programs, joint degree programs (with business schools and environmental schools for example), and centers of excellence. Keeping a close eye on ideas coming out of these centers of learning can help companies stay on top of developing trends. (List of leading programs to come soon...)