Center for Strategic and International Studies
Next America, a project run by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), sought to engage future leaders in a lively, ongoing discussion about the issues that loom ahead for future generations. The ultimate goal of the project was to leverage the momentum and wisdom of young professionals, all of whom share a world view distinct from their predecessors, in order establish a successful road map for the 21st century.
FORUM ONE SOLUTION
To wield support for its initiative and increase participation in the debate, Next America commissioned Forum One Communications to build a virtual community where members can share their perspectives and join the discussion by submitting comments, blog posts, opinion pieces, and video commentary.
Prior to development, Forum One partnered with CSIS to discover user scenarios, which dictate the features and functionality of the site, and identify target-audience needs. Then, Forum One proposed a unique creative design that diverged from the look and feel of the CSIS.org site enough to appeal to a younger audience while still falling within the style guides imposed by CSIS.
Using the Drupal open source content management system, which provides strong community building and information sharing features, Forum One tied in all of the elements that were specified in the discovery process to create the Next America site. The finished product includes a live blog, RSS feeds, topic-specific community pages, position polls, featured fellows, and a content repository. Also, it has a point/counterpoint template that enables users to follow and respond to ongoing debates in real-time.
The site's interactive features yield rich information for staff to use in setting the priorities of the June 2009 Summit, an event that will bring together Next America participants with foreign policy officials and will present the ideas and concerns of young voters to top decision makers during a series of congressional briefings.
The Next America site launch was kicked off by Colin Powell in July 2008. It immediately attracted heavy traffic and was the subject of praise among CSIS staff and federal officials. Today, it continues to support a vibrant community of young leaders who actively share their thoughts and collaborate around a common vision for global change.