Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

"Students, especially undergraduates, are the most vital assets in our community."

Edward Steinfeld, director of the Watson Institute

The Watson Institute issues a call to action to Brown students: #HackWatson

Submit your ideas!

With this political season’s contentious schisms likely to continue post-Election Day, here’s an opportunity that will appeal to everyone, regardless of their political affiliations: The Watson Institute invites students, faculty, staff, and community members to participate in #HackWatson, “Changing layout of Watson’s public spaces.”

How can the Watson Institute’s two buildings – 111 Thayer Street and 59 Charlesfield Street – be more inclusive and welcoming to everyone? How can the facilities be opened up to nurture students’ ability to tap into the creativity and energy of the Watson community? How can we create more buzz, more energy within the buildings’ different spaces for structured and informal learning, studying, and discussion? These are questions that Edward Steinfeld, the Director of the Watson Institute, asks.

Whether you are a student who frequent the building regularly -- for events, as a concentrator, or through one of the eight regional centers -- or if you are fairly new to the building, the Watson Institute wants to hear from you. Plans to renovate a building on Charlesfield and build a new 20,000-square-foot facility, adjacent to the building at Thayer, offer an ideal opportunity to improve the public space within the buildings and raise awareness among members of the community about the public’s access to these facilities.

With the Watson Institute addressing so many provocative issues – including, for example, those of race, ethnicity, and identity in cross-national contexts; environmental challenges and conflict resolution; and equity in education and health care – we host a wide array of learners, from heads of state to undergraduate students, said Steinfeld, whose life was changed and career path determined when he inadvertently discovered a class on China, simply because it was held in a lecture hall adjacent to his preferred study space. Even if visitors to Watson don’t become abiding public policy experts, they’ll still learn a great deal, laughed Steinfeld, who believes that spending time together promotes more opportunities for shared learning.

“Students, especially undergraduates, are the most vital assets in our community,” said Steinfeld, who wants to build and strengthen Watson’s “ever-present [cohort] of those assets stimulating our work and promoting learning and making the place feel like a beehive of activity.”

All ideas, no matter how modest or grand, cutting-edge or traditional, are welcome. Please submit ideas using this form, or using #HackWatson on social media channels. 

--Nancy Kirsch