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Baker Buzz

News and Events from the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy

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The Tempest Within-Reconciling Disagreements on Climate Conflict Links 

As part of the Global Security Lecture Series, Dr. Cullen Hendrix will discuss the evolution of the debate around the security implications of climate change and reflect on the benefits of inclusive approaches to reconciling scholarly and scientific disagreements. Hendrix will also assess whether standard modes of academic debate are adequate for meeting the needs of the human and natural systems that will be affected by global environmental change.
This event will take place on Monday, March 9th from 5:30 to 6:30 pm in the Toyota Auditorium and is free and open to the public.  

Baker Cafe: Urban Flooding and Rain Gardens 

Join Dr. Lisa Reyes Mason, Associate Professor in the College of Social Work, for coffee and a discussion on the risks of urban flooding and possible solutions.
Urbanization, climate change, and aging stormwater infrastructure are a perfect storm for greater risk of urban flooding. Green infrastructure can be part of the solution, including community-based rain garden programs. Dr. Reyes Mason will talk about her work bringing diverse disciplines together to engage communities in creating rain gardens that capture water before it hits the stormwater system, while also enhancing beautification and community building.
This event will take place on Friday, March 27th from 10:00 to 11:00 am in the Toyota Auditorium and is free and open to the public. 

Energy & Environment Forum with Dr. Brian Bledsoe 

Floods are among the most frequent, costly, and deadly natural hazards. Current management of urban flood hazards is hindered by overly simplistic models and inadequate understanding of the three interacting mechanisms by which future flood hazards may be amplified: atmospheric processes (e.g., increasing heavy rainfall), catchment processes (e.g., increasing imperviousness), and floodplain processes (e.g., loss of flood conveyance and storage capacity).
In this presentation, Dr. Brian Bledsoe, Distinguished Professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia, will describe key opportunities for improving prediction and communication of these compounding effects with emphasis on novel flood mapping techniques aimed at making risk more intelligible.
This event will take place on Thursday, March 26th from 1:00 to 2:30 pm in the Toyota Auditorium and is free and open to the public. 

Be Strong and of Good Courage: David Makovsky 

Dr. David Makovsky will examine significant Israeli leaders who were part of the establishment of the state and instrumental in safeguarding its future. He will discuss moments of leadership and strategic judgment during Israel's history.
Dr. Makovsky is the Ziegler distinguished fellow at The Washington Insitute and an adjunct professor in Middle East studies at Johns Hopkins University. He is also a former executive editor of the Jerusalem Post.
This event will take place on Monday, March 30th from 5:30 to 6:30 pm in the Toyota Auditorium and is free and open to the public. 

Ashe Lecture Series: America and Europe in an Era of Great-Power Competition 

The Baker Center recently welcomed Dr. Wess Mitchell, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, to discuss future relations between the world's hegemonic powers. 
The rise of China and persistence of Russia as a major military power present a significant national security challenge for the United States. Washington’s ability to deal successfully with these large rivals will be determined in part by how well it makes use of its extensive international alliances and in particular its close allies in Europe.  
Watch the video of his talk here


Associate Director Featured on NPR's HealthConnections

Dr. Katie Cahill, Associate Director of the Howard H. Baker Center for Public Policy, was featured on an episode of HealthConnections, where she discussed the economic consequences of poor health in Tennessee. HealthConnections, hosted by Brandon Hollingsworth and Dr. Carole Myers, aims to "bring the often-abstract world of health care, coverage, and policy to a human level." 
The full interview is available on the HealthConnections webpage and on the WUOT website for on-demand listening. 

Baker Fellow Leads Charge on Urban Rain Gardens 

Dr. Lisa Reyes Mason, Howard Baker Center Fellow, has done tremendous research on the implications of urban flooding. Additionally, she has been working in the Knoxville community to implement rain gardens as a possible solution. She has led the recruitment of homeowners in North Knoxville and will be installing 10 gardens in the Spring. Dr. Reyes Mason will also be discussing her work with urban flooding on March 27th at a Baker Cafe. You can read more about her urban flooding research here and her work in Knoxville here

Baker Fellow awarded XSEDE Championship 

Dr. Deborah Penchoff, Director of the Scientific Fellows Program for the Institute for Nuclear Security, was recently named an XSEDE Champion for the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery. XSEDE is a "single virtual system that scientists can use to interactively share computing resources, data, and expertise." 

Baker Fellow Becomes Journal Editor 

Baker Fellow with the Energy & Environment program, Dr. Christian Vossler, recently became the editor of the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economist (JAERE). This is the leading academic journal in the field of environmental and resource economics. JAERE publishes many articles that are important for the creation of relevant public policy regarding natural resources. 

New Publications from Energy & Environment Fellow 

Dr. David McCollum, a research fellow with the Energy & Environment program, recently published two papers focused on climate change and energy modellers. These papers include: 
“Decarbonization pathways and energy investment needs for developing Asia in line with well below 2 °C” published in Climate Policy and “Energy modellers should explore extremes more systematically in scenarios” published in Nature Energy. 

Why Hacking Must Be Addressed 

Stuart N. Brotman, J.D., recently published an article in CSO Online, "Why Hacking must be Addressed in Digital Privacy Policymaking." In his article, Brotman mentions the dangers of digital hacking and how it has avoided legislation in the past. Brotman argues that "in addition to greater transparency for digital data collection, storage, and dissemination activities, the hacking universe, including cybersecurity defenses, also needs greater exposure." You can read the article here. 


Baker Center Students Go to Harvard

Three Baker Center Ambassadors were recently invited to Harvard for two different conferences on civic engagement and public policy leadership. 
Isabelle Marshall, a sophomore public administration major, was selected to attend the 2020 Harvard Kennedy School of Government Public Policy Leadership Conference. She says that through the conference she was, "able to form a network of over 70 college students from across the nation hailing from a variety of backgrounds from undocumented immigrants to first-generation college students, all united by their passion for public service and social change." 
The same weekend, Lawand Yassen, a junior Biomedical Engineering major, and Diana Pope, a senior political science major, attended the Howard Campaign Conference. Diana said that during the conference she enjoyed, "visiting Cambridge and New Hampshire, being able to meet gifted student leaders, and learning more about the process of leadership and management." 

Success on the TN Campus Civic Summit 2020 

On Friday, February 21st the Leadership & Governance program at The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy hosted the TN Campus Civic Summit for the 3rd year. Administrators, faculty, and community partners convened for a one-day regional summit to examine how Tennessee’s institutions of higher education make civic learning and civic engagement central to their campuses.

The Tennessee Campus Civic Summit 2020 addressed the goals and the strategies needed to reach 100% campus civic participation. Featured speakers this year included: Chancellor Donde Plowman, Dr. Sidney A. McPhee, M. David Rudd, Verdis L. Robinson, Felice Nudelman, and Abby Kiesa. 

Get Involved with the Baker Center! 

The Center is a home for civic engagement for students in all programs and at all levels. Through programs, events and lectures, and helpful faculty and staff, the Center aims to help engage the community on the topics of Global Security, Leadership & Governance, and Energy & Environment.
Learn more at

Here are some ways you can get involved: 
Contact Us
Howard H. Baker Jr Center for Public Policy
1640 Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996
Phone: 865-974-0931
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