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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 UT’s 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. Students can take an issue they are passionate about, research it and develop a policy solution in the form of a brief, which addresses that problem. They will learn how the process works and how to engage and get help from stakeholders, including local, state, regional or federal agencies, and non-profits.

“The public policy challenge is a fun, educational program that shows students how to engage in civic life and make an impact by using public policy to solve real issues,” said Nissa Dahlin-Brown, associate director of the Baker Center.

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 for issues such as opioid addiction, a volunteer website for Community Schools’ volunteers, mental health screenings for incarcerated juveniles, job assistance for Tennesseans on welfare, and a plan to remove plastic bags from UT’s campus within the next three years.

“Some faculty are integrating the challenge into their curriculum, but individuals and student organizations can also take the challenge and work together to solve problems like safety, homelessness, mental health, privacy, crime, drugs, and the environment,” said Dahlin-Brown.

A pizza lunch and information session on the challenge will take place at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, January 18, in the Baker Center’s Toyota Auditorium. The deadline to register for the challenge is Friday, January 20.


Nissa Dahlin-Brown (865-974-8681,

Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,