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UT students will have the opportunity to make an impact on real-world issues through the use of public policy, research and teamwork thanks to a program from the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.

The Howard Baker Public Policy Challenge is a thought-provoking educational tool that requires a semester-long commitment from students. Students enrolled in the program learn about current issues affecting their world and how they can impact change, and create a policy brief to address problems from local, state, and federal agencies.

“This unique program requires teamwork, communication skills, and passion,” said Nissa Dahlin-Brown, associate director of the Baker Center. “We do provide numerous resources to help educate the students about public policy and their role as participatory citizens. This is a fantastic engagement and experiential learning tool.”

Winners of the challenge receive cash prizes to further their policy solutions. The grand prize is $3,000, and two runners-up will each receive $1,000.

Previous winners have developed various policy solutions such as mental health screening for incarcerated juveniles, job assistance for Tennesseans on welfare, and removing plastic from UT’s campus within the next five years.

“This year more faculty are incorporating the challenge into their courses, and student organizations are also getting involved,” said Brown.

If students are not enrolled in a class that is incorporating the challenge into the curriculum, they can apply to be placed on a team and ask their adviser about receiving independent study credit for their work.

A reception and orientation are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. January 20 in the Baker Center Toyota Auditorium for those who sign up.



Nissa Dahlin-Brown (865-974-8681,

Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,