Matthew Murray, PhD, Director
Katie Cahill, PhD, Associate Director
Jonathan Ring, PhD, Director of Undergraduate Programs
Charles Sims, PhD, Joint Faculty Appointment with Department of Economics
Krista Wiegand, PhD, Joint Faculty Appointment with Department of Political Science
The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy is a nonpartisan institute devoted to education, student engagement and research in the areas of energy policy, environmental policy, global security and leadership and governance. Through classes, student initiatives, public lectures, research symposia and research publications, the center aims to provide policymakers, citizens, scholars, and students with the information and skills necessary to work effectively within our political system and to serve our local, state, national, and global communities. By examining policy and politics through a nonpartisan lens, the Baker Center continues the groundbreaking work of its namesake, Senator Howard H. Baker Jr., who was nicknamed, “The Great Conciliator” for his ability to cross party lines and encourage lawmakers to cooperate on key issues affecting the public good. In the spirit of Senator Baker’s work, the center offers a number of public lectures and programs on topics across the political spectrum, with a focus on the areas noted above.
Students with a strong interest in public policy can apply to participate in one or more of the following programs over the course of their undergraduate career.
Baker Center Living and Learning Community – Freshman Year
The Baker Center Living and Learning Community (BCLLC) is designed for incoming freshmen and seeks to promote citizenship while offering shared opportunities to increase understanding of our system of governance and public policy making within an established student support network. Students accepted into the BCLLC live together in Morrill Hall and take courses together in the fall and spring semesters of their freshman year. The courses provide an introduction to the field of public policy and career opportunities therein. Students also explore specific public policy issues on their own and through engagement in roundtable discussions with university faculty, community and political leaders. Opportunities for leadership development also exist for BCLLC members through various co-curricular activities. Applications are accepted in conjunction with the university housing application process.
Baker Ambassadors – Sophomore-Junior-Senior Years
Students selected to serve as Baker Ambassadors help create, plan, and manage special events in connection with the Baker Center. Ambassadors participate in activities associated with the National Campaign for Civic and Political Engagement, a Harvard-led consortium which focuses on political engagement, from research to educational programs for college and younger students. They also plan educational and social events for the Baker Center Living and Learning Community, Baker Scholars, and the public. The Ambassador role is action-oriented, whereby students are given hands-on opportunities in the areas that interest them most. Whether through organizing an on-campus debate, encouraging high school students to become involved in the political process, or registering people to vote, ambassadors gain invaluable experience and connections, while providing an important public service. Applications from sophomores and up are accepted in the fall and spring semesters.
Baker Scholars – Junior and Senior Years
Since its inception in 2004, the Baker Scholar program has consistently attracted the University of Tennessee’s most academically gifted, politically curious students by offering a unique and meaningful opportunity for engagement in the field of public policy. The central undertaking of each Baker Scholar is a senior project that involves either research on a specific policy issue or implementation of a creative initiative that contributes toward understanding of public policy issues, governance, civic engagement, or public service. Scholars are paired with faculty or professional mentors who serve as resources and help direct their project. In addition to their project work, scholars are strongly encouraged to participate in Baker Center events such as guest lectures and conferences, giving scholars the chance to expand their networks of professional contacts and hear first-hand accounts from political insiders. Applications are accepted in August of each year from rising juniors with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.35.
Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy
1640 Cumberland Ave
Knoxville, TN 37996-3340