Towards a global network?


I am writing this in the shadow of Sydney Harbour Bridge. This really is an amazingly beautiful place and it's not just the delights of the metropolis, there are fantastic beaches within the city and a massive national park - which I visited yesterday - just a few miles away.

Amidst the holiday fun of my trip I have been meeting interesting Australians, many of whom are Fellows.  Tomorrow I'm having breakfast with the Sydney RSA group. I have no doubt that we will discuss an issue which has kept me pondering throughout my travels; how can we develop the RSA as a truly international organisation and Fellowship?

This ambition isn't thoughtless. Although comparisons have to be treated with caution, creative policy development can be powerfully enhanced by looking at how other countries do things. Also, more and more of the policy issues we face have global dimensions. And it is clear that Fellows themselves - both in the UK and beyond - would love to feel the Fellowship was more international.

I have some ideas for how we can go to the next stage on all this. It needs to involve both enhancing our capacity to recruit, service and engage Fellows internationally and - because ultimately networking only thrives if it has a purpose - it means identifying specific subject areas where we can develop conversations, collaborations and projects. An initial priority list for such international conversations is creative learning, social innovation/public service reform, and entrepreneurship, but I'm sure there will be other contenders.

Of course, all this costs money so none of it will happen unless we can identify the funding, and the idea is supported by the RSA Trustees.  But the question I would like to pose readers is this: 'what insights can we gain about what works and - what doesn't - in existing international civil society networks?'. If we are going to try to go global we will need to do some proper research on this, but any useful tips and sources as starting points would be gratefully received. 

Thanks. Now I'm off to talk to someone about social innovation in Australia and one of those international networks - the Aspen Institute.

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