BrownThink is a “think tank devoted to the creation of better public policy,” according to club president Griffin Kao. A relatively new presence on campus—it became an officially recognized club only last year—this club has many plans for growth. Even their categorization as a think tank is new; last year the club functioned solely in relation to a public policy case competition. This year the club is open to the possibility of participating in competitions, but members are more excited about creating a platform for Brown students to share policy ideas or proposals.
Joining – Any Brown or RISD student can join BrownThink simply by getting on the list serv. All projects that occur are volunteer based and open to any member. However, applications are required to become an editor or part of the E-board.
Time commitment? – The time commitment is what you make of it. There is one weekly meeting that lasts for an hour, and additional hours are dependent on the number of projects members take on.
Meeting breakdown – A usual meeting framework has not yet been established. According to E-board members, meetings will most likely include workshops, policy proposal group work, proposal presentations, and opportunities to publish memos on completed policy.
The meeting I attended involved a war game simulation in which three teams took on roles (NATO, Georgia, and Russia) and acted out their possible reactions to a specific political situation. The objective of the simulation was for each team to pursue their role’s assigned goals to their fullest capabilities. Snacks (Cheetos, Chips Ahoy, pretzels, and Sun Chips) were provided. According to Kao, they will “probably have [some food at] most meetings.”
Big? – At the meeting I attended (the second of the semester), about sixteen people showed up (although the list serv has 102 people). Long time members informed me that last year about eight to ten core people were consistently involved, while many more people would come and go.
Fun factor versus future application factor? – This club is a good mixture of fun and appealing to resume readers. While the prestige associated with a think tank will no doubt impress future employers, it seems that many people participate simply out of personal interest.
Community? – The BrownThink community is goal oriented but very friendly. Since the vast majority of members this semester are new, some awkward tension awaits release. However, the E-board is confident that after the close work that occurs during project research and creation, everyone will get to know each other pretty quickly.
Anonymous – “The feeling that you get being a part of BrownThink is this incredible sense of being involved in something bigger, because it’s about the standard of government that we’re striving for across the world. Our goal is better policy, but that sentence is more than just words. It’s the embodiment of a bigger sentiment that for many people is life and death.”
Dorothy – “I’ve only been to one meeting but I came back because [I was] told we’re transitioning into a think tank. That sounded interesting. But who knows how this,” (gestures at the board, which reads “War Games Simulation: Georgia Power Explosion”) “will turn out.”
Tedna – “Seems really cool. I’ve never done anything like it.”
Jeevanjot – “BrownThink is a good place for those who want to get involved and learn about public policy in a fun and collaborative environment. No previous experience is needed at all. Just come out and learn!”
This club is a very friendly and passionate group of people who come together to explore public policy. This club is for you if you’re interested in the logistical side of improvement and change. While a little disorganized at the moment, BrownThink has big plans for itself and seems to be moving in an interesting and exciting direction under strong and spirited leadership. This club is particularly great for public policy and international relations concentrators.