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The Watson Institute for International Studies plans to officially launch a new multimedia blog, Global Conversation, for members of the Brown community to discuss important international issues.

The Global Conversation, scheduled to publicly launch the weekend of Oct. 2, will serve as a medium for students, faculty and alums to display their work on relevant international topics and to "build communities of interest" around them, according to the website.

"One of the basic goals is to present ideas and research and projects that are going on at Brown not to just a scholarly audience, but an audience that is more mainstream," said Geoffrey Kirkman '91, deputy director of the Watson Institute. "The idea is to make it truly a global conversation about issues that are going on in the world."

Using two educational grants from AT&T totaling $345,000, the Watson Institute sent 11 students around the world with specialized audio and video equipment to document their projects.

Zachary McCune '10 and Colleen Brogan '10 trekked to Ireland to study Irish sports, Kirkman said. "At the end, they put together a 32-minute documentary about Irish sport and Irish identity and society," he said.

Sarah Kay '10 traveled to India to document the development of a school for poor children run by eight middle-aged women in a developing industrial area just outside New Delhi. "I was filming the school in the hopes of building visibility for them to showcase what they are doing to show a model of what they have built so it can be produced elsewhere," Kay said.

"People can use it as a creative outlet, or they can use it as a very strict analytical outlet. It is very open stylistically," Kay said of the blog.

Matthew Garza '11 documented his service project on performance arts at a children's center in Mali. "It was a really cool moment to really be engaged with the kids and to speak their language and to bring us all together," Garza said. "We achieved a place where music and art is mutual, and we communicated based on that idea."

Garza said he will be organizing an exhibit to showcase the art and photography he did with the children in Mali.

Global Conversation has over 70 contributors, who produce blog posts, video, photographs, audio and written accounts. "Anyone with a Brown e-mail address, whether it be staff or students, can open an account and start contributing," Kirkman said.

The site is also launching a new series where Brown faculty conducting new research are paired up with filmmakers to make short films. "We think that using video and new media will get attention for things we do," Kirkman said.

Global Conversation is advertising through posters on campus, its Facebook page and Twitter feed, e-mail and word of mouth. For the future, Kirkman said "the big vision is that Global Conversation becomes the go to place not only for Brown, but for a lot of universities. It can be a place where the general public can go for audio and video and blogging."



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