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The goal of the Berkman Center Student Think Tank is to provide a forum through which students can address new and challenging issues within the broad field of Internet law and share the resulting product with the Berkman Center, the Law School, and the larger community.

I. The Structure

The Student Think Tank sponsors a small number of students each year to take on innovative questions concerning the Internet and the law. 

A. The Projects

Consistent with the Berkman Center's commitment to the many ways of learning and thinking, we encourage students to be creative in structuring their projects. Thus, the types of projects can be as diverse as the students' interests. While the Student Think Tank encourages students to come up with their own ideas, we also keep a list of interesting projects culled from the staff and faculty of the Berkman Center in the Idea Bank. If the student chooses to work on one of the projects from the Idea Bank, she is responsible for taking the seed idea and growing it. Thus, we hope to provide creative opportunities both to those who have specific research questions they have been wanting to explore and to those who are interested in taking on a research project and want an opportunity to think deeply about some topic but do not have a specific proposal in mind. 

We believe that the centrality of the student in this endeavor is crucial: the potential creativity that exists untapped on our campus is, we believe, enormous, and we hope the Student Think Tank will galvanize it. Faculty and staff of the Berkman Center will serve in a loose capacity as a resource for the students to help them think through their ideas.

B. Communicating the Ideas

Students are responsible not only to structure a project and see it to fruition but also to present it to both the Berkman Center community and the larger community.

1. To the Berkman Center Community

The student affiliates will meet on an approximately monthly basis with members of the Berkman Center staff and faculty to discuss research ideas and works in progress. Each student is responsible for presenting once during the semester. Each presenter will send out a précis in advance of the presentation to all participants; in turn, participants will be asked to prepare a short written response with an eye towards constructive criticism for the presenter. We believe that this will help to engender a dynamic space in which students, faculty, and staff can think creatively together about interesting issues concerning the Internet and the law, contributing to each other's research and thought processes. We hope that having people write out responses in advance will enable serious analysis and criticism of the works in progress. In addition, we anticipate that this group of people will meet once or twice over the duration of their participation in the Student Think Tank in a more informal, social setting, in order to foster cordial relationships among the participants.

2. To the Larger Community

How exactly the work will be presented to the larger community is up to each individual student. We imagine students hosting in-house roundtables or presentations, offering discussion groups open to the broader community, creating websites or web-based resources, organizing colloquia or conferences, publishing scholarly articles or more conversational pieces, in existing journals, in newspapers and magazines, or in our own publication. There are, undoubtedly, many more possibilities than these. The Student Think Tank will host a website on which the students can present the results of their projects, whether as a log of a discussion group, as minutes from a meeting, as a briefing book from a conference, or in some other form. The Student Think Tank website will become a growing compendium of the projects of its student affiliates.

III. The Need

There are many factors that prompted the creation of the Student Think Tank. Perhaps primary among them, there are many fascinating questions relating to the wide field of Internet law that have yet to be thought of, let alone answered sufficiently. More specifically, many faculty and staff associated with the Berkman Center have questions that they themselves would like addressed through research or other means. The Berkman Center has an infrastructure in place to support student work and to bring together students and faculty/staff.

The Berkman Center functions within the rubric of the Law School. At the Law School, there is a palpable need for a space that encourages and supports student creativity. There is, furthermore, a palpable need for increased interaction between students and professors. The Student Think Tank, we hope, will respond to these varied needs in a way that will enhance the value of the Berkman Center while contributing to the Law School, its students, and the broader community.

IV. The Benefits

We believe that the Student Think Tank can yield a number of significant benefits for the Berkman Center, for the Law School, and, potentially, for the field of Internet law as a whole. Specifically, we hope that the Student Think Tank will contribute to the dialogue on Internet and society through a wide range of research projects and other creative endeavors. Furthermore, we believe that it can provide interested students with support and inspiration to get involved in questions of Internet and society while providing affiliated faculty and staff with an outlet for creative ideas and a mechanism through which those ideas can blossom into proposals and then definitive products. Finally, we hope that over time the community of students who make up the Student Think Tank will build on their experiences to contribute to the emerging field of Internet law.

Last modified Jan. 30, 2003.

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society