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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 Highlight 

Ambassador Howard Baker

Senator Baker to Ambassador Baker

Senator Baker is best known for his many years of service in the Senate and the White House. Yet Howard Baker served his country in a role just as important – as U.S. Ambassador to Japan from 2001-2005. 
In early 2001, President George W. Bush asked retired Senator Baker to change his title to Ambassador. Baker famously responded, “If that’s what you really want, I will accept.” Baker was 75 at the time and optimistic about the positive influence he could have on US-Japanese relations. There was no opposition to this nomination. Then-Senator Joe Biden noted his confirmation should “last twelve seconds” due to an expected unanimous agreement that Baker would make a phenomenal ambassador to Japan.
Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun recently published an article about Senator Howard Baker’s role as Ambassador to Japan, the Global Security Program's work in promoting US-Japanese relations, and Director Krista Wiegand’s research on maritime disputes and her personal connection to Japan (her parents met in Okinawa). UTK alum Yoshi Momoki, who graduated in 1993 and lives in Tokyo, was very happy to see a story about his alma mater in a Japanese newspaper!  


Listen Learn Lead

Jonathan Haidt to Headline UT's Listen. Learn. Lead. Week March 28 - April 1 

The 2022 Baker Distinguished Lecturer is Dr. Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist and a professor of ethical leadership, based in the Business and Society Program at New York University.
Haidt is the author of The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure. He will speak on Thursday, March 31 from 5:30 to 6:30 pm in the Student Union Auditorium.
Haidt's lecture is part of Listen. Learn. Lead. Week organized by the Baker Center, in partnership the University Offices of Student LifeDiversity & Engagement, and the Provost. The theme of the week harkens to Baker's legacy of Listening to Learn and Listening to Lead. Other programming during the week will help the campus foster spaces where differences are appreciated as constructive ways of helping everyone find the truth.

Ashe Lecture: Asia Policy Challenges for the Biden Administration

Dr. Ken Weinstein, the Walter P. Stern Distinguished Fellow at the Hudson Institute, will be lecturing on the challenges the Biden administration faces in Asia. Weinstein, an expert on foreign policy, was nominated by President Trump to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Japan. Weinstein will provide an assessment of President Biden's U.S. foreign policy strategies in the Indo-Pacific. Specifically, Weinstein will address whether the U.S. has committed the attention, willpower, or resources necessary to meet the strategic challenge of Xi Jinping's China amid other pressing global and domestic ambitions.
Join us Monday, March 7, from 5:00 to 6:00 pm in the Toyota Auditorium or though our live webcast.  

Virtual Baker Cafe: One Year Review: Assessing the Biden Administration’s Foreign Policy

Join us for a virtual Baker Cafe with John Rader, UT alum (B.A. 2008; J.D. 2010) and Chief Operating Officer of Affinity Partners Global LLC. Rader formerly served as Chief of Staff for U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty, as Deputy Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives under the Trump Administration, and as part of the National Security Council.
Dr. Krista Wiegand, Director of the Global Security Program at the Baker Center, will moderate a discussion on the Biden Administration’s foreign policy over the past year. The Administration has navigated multiple global crises. Mr. Rader’s experience in the national security apparatus of the federal government and the United States Senate provides a unique window into the Biden Administration’s decision-making process.
Join us Wednesday, March 9, from 12:00 to 1:00 pm through our live webcast
Poplar Trees

Virtual Energy & Environment Forum: Producing Bioenergy with Benefits 

Join us for a virtual Energy & Environment Forum with Dr. Esther Parish, an environmental scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and leader of interdisciplinary research projects for the US Department of Energy's Bioenergy Technologies Office. The forum will provide an overview of ways that designing landscapes for bioenergy production could potentially reduce carbon emissions, improve local water and soil quality, provide habitat for birds and pollinators, and create new jobs and income in the farms and forests of the rural United States.
Join us Thursday, March 10, from 1:00 to 2:30 pm through Zoom

Research-Practice Partnerships: Working Togother to Enhance Health

Join us for a virtual town hall supported by the Leadership & Governance program. The town hall will be held for community partners to join a conversation, moderated by Dr. Javiette Samuel, Associate Vice Chancellor and Director of Community Engagement and Outreach, on working together in research-practice partnerships to enhance health. Dr. Hollie Raynor and Dr. Brad Day,who serve as co-chairs of the Human Health and Wellness Committee for the University, will start the conservation with an overview of the committee's work. 
Join us Thursday, March 10, from 1:30 to 3:00 pm through Zoom

Global Security Lecture with Mike Christian

Join us for a Global Security Lecture with Mike Christian on Tuesday, March 22, from 5:00 to 6:00 pm in the Toyota Auditorium or through our live webcast

Energy & Environment Forum with Valerie Karplus

Join us for an Energy & Environment Forum with Valerie Karplus on Tuesday, March 24, from 1:00 to 2:30 pm in the Toyota Auditorium or through Zoom

Virtual Baker Cafe: Higher Education at a Crossroads: Funding, Accountability, and Governance Challenges of Today's Universities

Join us for a virtual Baker Cafe with Robert Kelchen of the University of Tennessee College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences on Friday, March 25, from 12:00 to 1:00 pm through our live webcast


indo pacific

Maritime Law Enforcement in the Indo-Pacific: Building Capacity to Confront Militia Groups and Maritime Crime

Global Security Faculty Fellow Dr. Brandon Prins presented a talk, “Maritime Law Enforcement in the Indo-Pacific: Building Capacity to Confront Militia Groups and Maritime Crime,” to the Basic Research Forum, U.S. Department of Defense in February.

Dynamic Portfolios Of Spatial And Temporal Forest-Based Biodiversity Conservation

Energy & Environment Fellow Seong-Hoon Cho was the Project Director for "Dynamic Portfolios Of Spatial And Temporal Forest-Based Biodiversity Conservation" along with Co-Project Directors Charles SimsPaul ArmsworthMonica PapesGiam Xingli, and Seong Do Yun. Their research was recently awarded a grant from AFRI Foundational and Applied Science Program, funded by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Moroccan flag

US-Moroccan Democratization

Global Security Faculty Fellow Dr. Matt Buehler is currently pursuing a month of field research in Morocco. This trip is Buehler’s first visit to Morocco after almost two and a half years of not conducting field research due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions. His research examines how the US-Moroccan strategic alliance affects democratization in Morocco. 


Sarah Campbell

Tennessee Supreme Court Confirmation

Congratulations to Sarah Campbell, 2003 Baker Scholar, for her confirmation as Tennessee Supreme Court Justice. Justice Campbell shared her experience with the Baker Center and its connection to her career:
"My involvement with the Baker Center gave me a deep appreciation for public service. I have carried that with me throughout my career, first as a judicial law clerk, then as an attorney for the State of Tennessee, and now as a justice on the Tennessee Supreme Court." 
Jordan Henegar

Baker Student Spotlight

Congratulations to Jordan Henegar on this month's student spotlight! Jordan is originally from Oak Ridge, TN and is majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Public Policy Analytics and Economics. Jordan says of her post-graduation plans, "After receiving my degree, I will attend law school to become a pharmaceutical attorney. In the future, I aspire to assist in getting new medicines patented and FDA approved. Additionally, I hope to make lasting strides in improving public health policy." We cannot wait to see what you accomplish after graduation this spring! 

Meet Us

Dr. Ring Headshot

Baker Center Staff Spotlight

Director of Student Programs Dr. Jon Ring has been with the Center since 2019. Dr. Ring is enthusiastic about recruiting and retaining students at the Baker Center. He leads the Baker Ambassadors and Baker Scholars programs, as well as the Center's Public Policy Analytics Minor
"Dr. Ring has helped me and countless other students achieve our goals and see opportunities we never even knew existed. His passion for his subject and helping us succeed electrifies any topic, whether it be an 8 AM class or a 6 PM meeting," says Baker Ambassador Nolan Ragland. Thank you for all that you do for the Center and the students on campus! 
Washington Fellows Trip

Get Involved with the Baker Center

The Center is a home for civic engagement for students in all disciplines and at all levels. Through programs, events and lectures, and helpful faculty and staff, the Center aims to engage the community on the topics of Global Security, Leadership & Governance, and Energy & Environment. Visit for more information. 
Some ways to get involved with the Center:

Support Us

The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy is a nonpartisan institute devoted to education and research concerning public policy and civic engagement and made possible by many generous donors including Senator Baker. For more information about the Center and ways to support our efforts go to
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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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