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Baker Buzz

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

Front of the Baker Center building

Baker Highlights

Senator Alexander, Dr. Matt Murray, and Chancellor Beverly Davenport

Baker Center Announces New Board Members with Senator Alexander and Chancellor Davenport

The Center recently announced its new board members and new programming with support from board chair Jim Haslam, founder and CEO of Pilot Flying J, and remarks from Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport, and Baker Center Director Matt Murray.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to work with the new Baker Center Board of Directors, which includes some familiar faces and also some new contributors,” said Murray. “Senator Alexander’s remarks at our board meeting today motivated the group to help us pursue new challenges and opportunities in support of Senator Baker’s legacy." ... [read more here]

Student Hitchhikes to Senator Baker's Grave from New York

Wataru Yatabe, a 19-year-old freshmen at Oswego State University, recently hitchhiked from New York to see Senator Howard Baker's grave in Huntsville, Tennessee. His father, Tadashi Yatabe, worked as a security person for Senator Baker when he served as Ambassador to Japan from 2001-2005.
"Since my father worked in the Embassy when I was young, he had been telling me to see Mr. Baker again if I get to the US. Unfortunately, I can hardly remember about him, because I was so young and I had no idea what he and my dad was talking about in English. This trip was not only for my parents, but also for me to realize that he was a real person. Thanks to the people in Tennessee, I could do it successfully," says Wataru Yatabe.
You can read more of the article by Georgiana Vines here.



"US National Security Challenges and Trump's Foreign Policy" 

by Ambassador Nicholas Burns

The Baker Center will host Ambassador Nicholas Burns as a part of the Ashe Lecture Series. Burns is the Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and had a prestigious career serving in the US State Department. 
This event will take place on April 12, 2018, from 5:00 to 6:00 pm in the Baker Center's Toyota Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. Parking in the Vol Hall garage can be validated at the venue. 
Solar panels, windmills, and nuclear stacks

EU Commissioners: "The Role of Energy Innovation & Transforming Global Relationships"

Panelist will include Jens Acker, Counselor of Energy; Matt Kisber, Silicon Ranch Corporation; David Krembal, Counselor of Ecology; Robert Martineau, TN Dept of Environment and Conservation; and Thomas Zacharia, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
This event will take place on Friday, April 13, 2018, from 1:30 to 3:00 pm in the Baker Center's Toyota Auditorium. This event is free and open to the public. Parking in the Vol Hall garage can be validated at the venue. 

"How Loud is Your Campus Vote?" a TN Civic Summit

Do you want to learn about how to improve voter education, registration, and participation on your campus? Then come to the TN Campus Civic Summit, a conference bringing together Tennessee’s higher education institutions to learn and share best practices.

The Summit is being co-hosted by Leadership and Civic Engagement at East Tennessee State University, CivicTN, and the Leadership and Governance program at the Baker Center. Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper will give remarks at 3:00 pm on his efforts to improve voting as part of the Project Register initiative. 
The Summit will take place on Friday, April 20, 2018, from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm in the Baker Center's Toyota Auditorium. Cost of participation is $20, which includes breakfast, lunch, t-shirt, and materials. Registration can be done in advance or at the event. Financial support for students to attend is available.

"Free Expression on Campus: It's Complicated" by Frederick M. Lawrence

This event will focus on the First Amendment on college campuses and is being co-hosted by the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center, Phi Beta Kappa, and the Department of Political Science
Frederick M. Lawrence is secretary and CEO of Phi Beta Kappa. He has previously served as president of Brandeis University, Dean of George Washington University of Law School, and Visiting Professor and Senior Research Scholar at Yale Law School.
This event will take place on Wednesday, April 25 from 2:00 to 3:15 pm in the Baker Center's Toyota Auditorium. This event is free and open to the public.
Mosquito on hand

"The Future is Uncertain: Mapping and Communications Suitability for Vector Borne Diseases Under Climate Change" by Dr. Sadie Ryan

The Baker Center's Energy & Environment Program will host Dr. Sadie Ryan. 
Ryan is an Associate Professor of Medical Geography in the Department of Geography in the Emerging Pathogens institute at the University of Florida, and PI of the Quantitative Disease Ecology and Conservation Lab group.
Her training is in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, with an emphasis on conservation biology, quantitative ecology, and particularly, disease control.
This event will take place on Thursday, April 26, 2018, from 1:00 to 2:30 pm in the Baker Center's Toyota Auditorium. This event is free and open to the public. 


Dr. Keels Discusses Possible Action in Syria Following Chemical Attacks

Global Security fellow, Dr. Eric Keels, was recently featured on WBIR Knoxville. In this segment, Dr. Keels discussed possible actions President Trump could take in Syria following the recent chemical attacks in Douma on April 7th. He also spoke on US-Russia relations and the possible outcomes following a US airstrike.
To watch Dr. Keels's segment, visit WBIR Knoxville.

Terrorism in the Horn of Africa, by PhD Student Conny Sidi Kazungu

A Baker Center graduate student researcher, Conny Sidi Kazungu, analyzes the role of Kenya in the fight against terrorism in her recent research.
The policy brief titled, "The Strategic Importance of Kenya in the Fight Against Terrorism in the Horn of Africa - Evaluating Counterterrorism Measures in Kenya" can be found here.


Stethescope with dollar sign

Who Shall Live? Health Politics and Policy (POL 595) 

As a part of the MPPA program, a summer course on health politics and policy will be offered at the Baker Center. This graduate level course focuses on the organization, financing, and delivery of healthcare in the United States and the critical role different actors play in developing and implementing policies that affect health and healthcare.
The course will focus on foundational concepts in health policy, including the issues of costs, quality and access, as well as pressing policy issues in public health and health disparities, with a focus on Tennessee and the Appalachian Region.
This course is offered on Thursdays from 5:05 to 8:20 pm in room 205 of the Baker Center. For more information, contact Dr. Katie Cahill (
Map of Tennessee connected to the flags of other countries

Baker Center Programs Give Students Opportunities to do Research that Matters

Dr. Krista Wiegand, director of the Global Security program, and Dr. Brandon Prins, a Global Security fellow, were recently mentioned in an article by the University of Tennessee's College of Arts & Sciences. The two actively involve students in research on timely topics such as civil war, radicalization, and piracy.
Through Global Security and other programs offered at the Baker Center, like the Diplomacy Lab, students have had the opportunity to engage in research with Dr. Wiegand and Dr. Prins. This allows students to learn about real-world issues and core problems in the international community. The College of Arts & Sciences' article can be found here.

Student Spotlight

Baker Scholar Presents Research at National Conference

Gabriella LaRose, a junior at the University of Tennessee, will be presenting research at the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Conference in Chicago, IL. LaRose is a philosophy major with a concentration in law and politics and a minor in political science. She has been actively involved with the Baker Center since her freshman year when she was a member of the Baker Center’s Living and Learning Community. She now serves as a Baker Ambassador and a Baker Scholar. LaRose’s research titled, “Refugees and Terrorism: An Empirical Analysis of Refugee Flows and Domestic and Suicide Terrorism” examines the relationship between incoming refugee flows and domestic and suicide terrorism....[read more here].

Previous Events

"Missing the People for the Trees: The Human Role in Lyme Disease" By Andrew Plantinga

The Baker Center previously hosted Dr. Andrew Plantinga as a featured lecturer for the Energy and Environment lecture series. Plantinga is a professor of Natural Resource Economics and Policy at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research focuses on the economics of land use, climate change and forests.
This event took place on Thursday, April 5, 2018, in the Baker Center's Toyota Auditorium. A video can be found here.
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Howard H. Baker Jr Center for Public Policy
1640 Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996
Phone: 865-974-0931
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