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The Swearer Center's Social Innovation Initiative is creating a new blog aimed at promoting social innovation and entrepreneurship at Brown.

Although students and others have already written online material describing their individual experiences and sharing tips, the improved version will feature a new crop of student authors who research and write about salient social innovation issues in the University community and the world at large.

Charlie Harding '09.5, whose past blogging experience informed his idea for the new blog, said students who want to become engaged should simply start writing.

"The best way to get involved is to read a lot and to write a lot," he said. "The goals of the blog are to find a way to engage new students ... and to reach out and expand the dialogue beyond the Brown community."

Student bloggers will be divided into groups supervised by an editor, with each team focusing on a particular issue of importance. Topics under consideration include global health, food security and criminal justice. The blog's founders envision a streamlined format in which Internet users can click on each of these "channels" in order to explore a particular issue.

Yet the objective of the blog is not only to aggregate information, but also to educate students to become leaders in these areas.

Alan Harlam, the Swearer Center's social entrepreneurship director, said the blog's ultimate goal was "knowledge creation."

"By becoming well-versed in a topic such as global health, students can become resources to other students interested in getting involved in global health — and even to global health professionals," he said.

The blog's founders hope to capitalize on Brown's alumni network and faculty, and want to provide a support system for the Innovation Initiative's current programming as well as for ventures started by Brown alums. The blog is also soliciting faculty contributions.
Ross Cheit, an associate professor of political science, wrote in an e-mail to The Herald that he has already expressed interest in sharing his insights related to criminal justice, good government and food politics on the blog.

Harding said the blog organizers were also interested in teaming up with some of the existing environmental and social innovation groups on campus. Adam Maynard '11, who writes his own blog about sustainability issues and will contribute to the new social innovation blog, said he was looking into integrating some of his content with an existing blog run by emPOWER, a student group that advocates for environmental awareness on campus.

Prior to its official launch, the blog will sponsor a 12-part guest blogging series on change.org, a Web site that features writing in support of progressive causes.

The blog's leaders are also hoping to share their ideas with other universities and leaders in the social innovation field. This past weekend, Harding and Harlam traveled to a conference at Babson College sponsored by Ashoka, a leading social entrepreneurship organization.

Harding said that during his presentation about Brown's Social Innovation Initiative at the conference, he articulated a weighty role for the blog.

"I envision a dynamic community of writers sharing with their own communities," Harding explained. "Hopefully this will be a way to incubate and create a measurable impact at Brown and beyond."




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