Past President of the Canadian International Council (CIC).
Founder and Publisher of OpenCanada.org and Assistant Professor of Digital Media and Global Affairs at UBC
Last June whilst commemorating the first birthday of OpenCanada.org, we noted the continuing growth of the CIC’s online presence – and has it ever grown!
OpenCanada is now two years old, and it is thanks to this site and the people behind it that the CIC has truly become Canada’s digital hub for international affairs. We seek to foster a dynamic international affairs conversation through innovative uses of digital media, academic outreach, original reporting, and policy debate.
The most fundamental development in the last twelve months was the redesign of OpenCanada.org, creating a sharper and better-organized site. Navigation is now more intuitive, with content categorized as Comments, Essays, Interviews, or Graphics. In the past year, the CIC has also become home to the International Relations and Digital Technology Project, reflecting our ongoing transition to becoming a truly virtual think tank.
The CIC’s relationship with the Globe and Mail has grown to include our Roundtable blog on the Globe’s website. A key motivation of the CIC team is to foster an “open” international affairs conversation. The content we create and curate and our established partnerships reflect this mission. Within one year, OpenCanada published 460 articles and increased its social media influence to over 20,000 people across multiple platforms, demonstrating the public demand for open dialogue.
We are embracing the virtual think tank model by creating In Depth series to target and thoroughly analyze timely issues like the implications of the Iraq War, Arctic development, and the elections in Sierra Leone. We have focused on making OpenCanada.org a truly collaborative platform by producing these series jointly with fellow institutions. Our Drone Week e-conference was created in partnership with the Canadian Defense and Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI); OpenCanada’s sustainable development series was made possible through cooperation with the North-South Institute; and most recently, the CIC worked with the International Economic Forum of the Americas, producing an interactive matrix of insights into emerging global challenges and opportunities from some of the world’s economic leaders.
OpenCanada also serves as a focal point for online discussion around the CIC’s major research initiatives. For example, The Resourceful Canadian e-discussion series was released in conjunction with the CIC’s research report, 9 Habits of Highly Effective Resource Economies: Lessons for Canada. The report addressed the challenge of leveraging Canada’s natural resource wealth to the fullest extent possible. It continues to gain traction in government and industry, and its recommendations were recently presented to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources by the report’s author, Madeline Drohan. OpenCanada’s series on Canada-Japan trade relations and water policy also advanced debates on Canadian foreign policy initiatives relating to natural resources in the international arena.
Branching out into new forms of media, we are working with Google to produce an online panel show, hosted by our Editor-in-Chief, Taylor Owen. The show features leading innovative international affairs academics and journalists. The first two episodes discussed the role of social media in the aftermath of the Boston bombing and the NSA surveillance program, respectively.
Reflecting on OpenCanada’s second year, our success spans far beyond our borders. The coming months promise further exciting opportunities to grow as we expand our content and international partnerships, and our cutting edge research capacity in the space of technology and international affairs.
Our engagement with institutes and contributors around the world is driven by our goal of being ambassadors of Canada in global affairs conversations. As a not-for-profit, non-partisan organization, our achievements would not be possible without the generosity of donors. We hope you consider donating or becoming a member of the CIC in support of our public service to provide discussion and education on international affairs in Canada, and support our efforts to bring important international issues to the forefront of Canadian policy discussions.