I could tell you how many steps make up the streets rising like stairways, and of the degree of the arcades' curves, and what kind of zinc scales cover the roofs; but I already know this would be the same as telling you nothing. The city does not consist of this, but of relationships between the measurements of its space and the events of its past...A description of Zaira as it is today should contain all Zaira's past. -Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Student brain trusts

Thinking about BrainReactions, which I talked about in my last post, made a connection in my mind to the Roosevelt Institute, which is advertising itself as "the nation's first student think tank." The group started at Stanford but apparently now has branches at several other American universities and is trying to get affiliates in other countries.

Their argument about the value they bring seems to be that students an underutilized resource, even though they spend their time, well, thinking. I'll be interested to see what kind of impact they have on policy thinking. Undergraduates often don't have enough knowledge of the "real world" (at least I didn't), but they do have the time and freedom to just think, and may not be as constrained by experience of what does and doesn't work.

Now I am wondering if I think I know more now than I did when I was an undergraduate, or if I thought I knew then...certainly the future depends on engaging the next generation though.

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