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KNOXVILLE — Amid news reports of town hall meetings erupting into chaos during discussions about health care reform, the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Political Policy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is advocating for a civil approach to major policy discussions.

The public is invited to view the Baker Center’s new video on civility in governance, which includes three case studies that demonstrate the importance of working across party lines in a civil manner to create policy on critical issues, such as clean air, civil rights and health care.

Free and open to the public, the event will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 2, in the Toyota Auditorium at the Baker Center, 1640 Cumberland Ave.

“The title of this program is ‘Applying the Principles of Sen. Howard Baker to Debate on Important Political Issues,'” said Carl Pierce, interim director of the Baker Center. “Throughout his government service career, Howard Baker has been known as a bridge builder — someone who was able to look beyond party lines and build consensus to get things done. We think that both our citizens and elected officials could accomplish more if they approached matters with the same commitment to civility.”

Baker Center initiatives promoting civility in governance have included compiling a booklet on civility standards, training future leaders in the civility of governance and holding a series of public forums.

The film, created by the Baker Center, documents the vision of civility as articulated by Gov. Phil Bredesen; Tom Griscom, editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press; John Seigenthaler, co-founder of USA Today and founder of the First Amendment Center; and other members of the Baker Center Civility Task Force. The film also includes a panel discussion that features Sens. Bob Dole and Tom Daschle, as well as the three case studies of civility.

The Baker Center, which opened at UT in 2003, develops programs and promotes research to further the public’s knowledge of our system of governance, and to highlight the critical importance of public service, a hallmark of Sen. Baker’s career.

The Baker Center’s facility includes a museum that tells the story of how government works using Sen. Baker’s life as a backdrop. It also houses the Modern Political Archives, which hold more than 100 collections of political papers from prominent Tennessee leaders.

For more about the Baker Center, see

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,