Drawing on the power of new technologies to reach a wider audience, the Urban Institute recently introduced podcasts that highlight its forums, events and speakers. Podcasts are audio files that can be downloaded and played on a computer or MP3 player.

The Urban Institute (UI) is a nonpartisan public policy organization that focuses on social, civic and economic issues. Its goal, according to Dana Campbell, UI’s web manager, is to inform and educate the public on critical issues and trends. “Podcasts are a growing medium, and we want to reach people where they are,” she says.

UI’s first podcast, released on November 7, is entitled “Making Taxes and Welfare Work Together.” Its second podcast, which became available this week, features a forum from its Thursday’s Child series called “Is There a New Youth Crime Wave? Evidence and Action.”

Users who have a podcast software system (like i-tunes, for example) can subscribe to the service by pasting a link to the feed in the system. Whenever a new podcast becomes available, it will automatically load when the software program starts.