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Baker Buzz

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

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Baker Highlights

Howard H. Baker Jr.

Profile in Courage: Howard H. Baker Jr. 

In April of 2016, Zhen Tu, a junior at Eagan High School in Eagan, Minnesota, wrote an essay describing the political courage of former U.S. Senator of Tennessee Howard Baker. She was awarded first place in the national John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest for High School Students.
Her essay highlights Senator Baker's successes while in office, including the ratification of the controversial Panama Canal treaties. Tu writes, "Howard Baker embodied the true soul of a courageous man, from supporting the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to alienating his fellow conservatives by advocating for the Panama Canal". You can read the entire essay on Senator Baker here.

Upcoming Events


Baker Cafe: Migrant Crisis in the Middle East

Dr. Matt Buehler, Global Security Faculty Fellow, and Dr. Kyung Joon Han, will present a talk on "Xenophobia and the Migrant Crisis in the Middle East" as part of the on-going Baker Cafe series. This informal discussion will be held in the Center's Reading Room (rm. 123) on Friday, February 22, from 10 to 11 am. Coffee and refreshments will be provided. This event is free and open to the public. 
Gary Machlis

The Future of Conservation in America

Dr. Gary Machlis is University Professor of Environmental Sustainability at Clemson University and former Science Advisor to the Director, U.S. National Park Service (NPS) during both terms of the Obama Administration.
In this lecture, Dr. Machlis will both sound the alarm and suggest practical strategies and a new and unified vision to advance conservation in the present and future. This lecture, which is part of the Center's Energy & Environment Forum, is based on his new book, The Future of Conservation in America: A Chart for Rough Water, written with Jon Jarvis, the eighteenth director of the National Park Service. Dr. Machlis’ book will be available for purchase at the event.
A panel discussion will follow the talk with: 
  • Dr. Mark Fly, Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries
  • Emily Jones, National Parks Conservation Association
  • Laurel Seus, Master’s student in Microbiology
  • Carter Hall, Masters of Public Policy and Administration student
This event will be held on Thursday, February 28, from 1 to 2:30 pm in the Toyota Auditorium. This event is free and open to the public. Guests may park in the Vol Hall Garage at no cost by requesting a voucher from the Baker Center staff at the event. 
Richard York

Introducing Demand: Why Consumer-Level Approaches to Conservation Often Fail

Dr. Richard York is a Professor of Environmental Studies and Sociology at the University of Oregon. He does both theoretical and empirical work in the areas of environmental sociology, ecological economics, animal studies, political economy, and the sociology of science.  

His talk will discuss the various theoretical reasons why alternative energy sources often do not suppress fossil fuel use and why efficiency does not lead to conservation, as part of the Howard H. Baker Center's Energy & Environment Forum. The talk will be held on Thursday, March 7, from 1 to 2:30 pm in the Toyota Auditorium.

This event is free and open to the public. Guests may park in the Vol Hall Garage at no cost by requesting a voucher from the Baker Center staff at the event. 

Baker Cafe: Cut Short, Declining Life Expectancy in the US

Dr. Carole Meyers, Associate Professor in Public Health and the College of Nursing, will present a talk on "Cut Short: Declining Life Expectancy in the US" as part of the on-going Baker Cafe series. This informal discussion will be held in the Center's Reading Room (rm. 123) on Friday, March 8, from 10 to 11 am. Coffee and refreshments will be provided. This event is free and open to the public.

January 2019 Events

TN State Capitol

TN Legislative Leaders Academy

The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and the University of Tennessee's Naifeh Center for Effective Leadership hosted the newly elected Tennessee State Legislators for the TN Legislative Leaders Academy.
Newly-elected members of the Tennessee General Assembly joined the non-partisan effort for legislators to receive timely professional development and growth. The capstone of this experience was the opportunity for former state legislators to share their own diverse and personal experiences in a roundtable discussion.
The discussion focused on civility and the importance of having positive, working relationships during sessions of the General Assembly. This is the third time the Center has offered this academy. 

C-SPAN Bus Comes to the Baker Center 

On Thursday, January 17, the C-SPAN bus set up outside of the Baker Center as a part of the nework's "Southern Swing" tour. The C-SPAN Bus travels the country to engage with community members and elected officials, showcasing the network’s public affairs programming and resources. 
Through the bus’s interactive kiosks and demonstrations visitors learned about C-SPAN's in-depth coverage of the American political process and comprehensive online educational resources.

As part of the event, the Baker Center also played live and archived C-SPAN broadcasts in its Toyota Auditorium. C-SPAN staff also presented to a US politics and government class as part of the visit. WBIR coverage of the visit can be found here.
South China Seas

Conflict in the South China Seas

Dr. Krista Wiegand, Director of the Center's Global Security Program, discussed the actions that China has taken to expand its control and influence east and south in Asia. As part of this Baker Cafe, Wiegand covered the occupation of reefs and shoals in the South China Sea and the artificial construction of islands being used by China as military installations. 
US Flag with Elephant and Donkey

Divided Government: Bipartisan Dysfunction, Bipartisan Solutions

The Center along with Issue One, a cross-partisan issue reform group, hosted former Congressman and U.S. Ambassador to India, Tim Roemer (D-IN) and Meredith McGehee, Executive Director of Issue One, for an in-depth exploration fo how leaders can place the country over partisan politics. Former Congressman Zach Wamp (R-TN) who helped organize the event was unable to attend. His son, Weston Wamp, a senior political strategist with Issue One, provided brief remarks in his stead. 
The discussion covered political reform on Capitol Hill, the challenges and opportunities for bipartisan solutions, and the impact of the 2018 midterm elections on governing in Washington. Coverage of the talk by the Daily Beacon can be found here
Jemesena Walker

Human Trafficking in Tennessee

Agent Jemesena Walker of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) was hosted at the Center for a talk on human trafficking. Walker has been employed with TBI for 17 years and is currently assigned to investigate matters involving sex trafficking within the state of Tennessee, particularly East TN.
Her talk, "Human Trafficking: Too Close to Home" discussed the challenge of human trafficking, current laws, and what might be done to address the problem. The talk was co-hosted by the University's chapter of the International Justice Mission and organized by Baker Ambassador, Anita Vorhees. Coverage of the talk by the Daily Beacon can be found here
Nuclear Warning Sign

History of the Non-Proliferation Treaty

Dr. Matt Cook, a Nuclear Engineer & Research Scientist with the Center's Institute for Nuclear Security, discussed the history regarding the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT).
As part of this Baker Cafe, Cook noted that the NPT was a landmark international treaty that sought to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament. 


Matt Buehler

Dr. Matt Buehler Receives Outstanding Faculty Award

Dr. Matt Buehler, a Global Security fellow and assistant professor of political science, received an Early Career Excellence in Research and Creative Activity Award.
The College of Arts & Sciences seeks to recognize faculty members who excel in scholarship and creative activity while also being fully engaged in the other responsibilities of faculty jobs, primarily teaching and service (to the department, university, and profession). 

In his five years in the Department of Political Science and with the Baker Center,  Buehler has put together a distinguished resume. He has published seven articles, three chapters in edited volumes, and has a published book at a top university press in the field. Additionally, Buehler became a Research Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, in the Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs, as part of the Middle East Initiative.

You can read more about Buehler's award and other outstanding faculty award winners here.
Deborah Penchoff Photo

Dr. Penchoff Receives 2019 Department of Energy Award

Dr. Deborah Penchoff, from the Center's Institute for Nuclear Security was awarded a supercomputing allocation for the 2019 Department of Energy (DOE) Mission Science from the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) for investigations of selective extraction of rare earth elements and actinides.
This award will contribute to investigations of critical materials of interest in national security.


Eric Peters, Baker Scholar

UT Named One of Nation's Top-Producing Fulbright Campuses

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is one of the nation’s top-producing campuses for students receiving 2018­­–19 Fulbright awards. More about this accomplishment can be found here
With a record-setting 19 students receiving US Fulbright Student Awards last year, UT ranks fourth among public research universities and 12th among all research universities, tying with Harvard University. Dr. Katie Cahill, Associate Director of the Center, and Dr. Krista Wiegand, Director of the Center's Global Security Program, both serve on the University's Fulbright committee.
Dr. Cahill is currently supervising Avanti Rangnekar, a former Baker Scholar, who is a Fulbright in India this year. Several Baker Scholars and Ambassadors are among the University's Fulbright students in the past few years, including Alina Clay, Lucy Greer, and Eric Peters. 
Baker Washington Scholars with Sen. Lamar Alexander

Washington Program, May 2019

For the second year, the Center will take a group of students to learn about politics and policymaking in the nation's capital as part of its new Washington Program.
During the two-week intensive course, these Baker Washington Scholars will meet with elected and appointed officials, journalists, and researchers for informative dicussions about the inner-workings of Washington.
The course is being taught by Dr. Katie Cahill, Associate Director of the Baker Center, and Steve Scully, Senior Executive Producer and Political Editor at C-SPAN. More information about the program can be found here
Students Walking in Baker Center
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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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