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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is hosting its spring semester “Listen. Learn. Lead.” Week March 27 through April 1. Students, faculty and staff will have opportunities to listen to different points of view, learn from the experiences of others and lead with courage through a variety of roundtable discussions, workshops and student summits.

Sponsored by the Division of Student Life and the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy in partnership with the Division of Diversity and Engagement and the Office of the Provost, the events are designed to promote and encourage diverse perspectives.

The week kicks off Monday, March 27, with a collegiate debate, “Should Assault Weapons Be Banned?” Hosted by the Baker Center’s Institute of American Civics, the UT Speech and Debate Society and Braver Angels, the event is for students only and provides a forum for respectful conversation touching all sides of the issue.

“The Institute of American Civics aims to enhance civic knowledge, build civic skills and promote civic engagement for our students and the state of Tennessee,” said Marianne Wanamaker, executive director of the Baker Center. “We are excited to provide students the opportunity to participate in a constructive debate on a major public policy issue – modeling the exchange of ideas and the eloquent listening that made Senator Baker so successful.”

PEN America will host a variety of workshops beginning Thursday, March 30, for faculty and staff to learn more about free speech issues facing college campuses. On Friday, March 31, and Saturday, April 1, there will be a variety of Free Expression student summits led by student leaders and PEN America staff.

The Baker Center will welcome U.S. Rep. Mark Green, representing the 7th District of Tennessee, on Friday, March 31. Green, who serves as chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security and is a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, will share his leadership journey and discuss civil discourse at the federal level, followed by a Q&A session.

“Listen. Learn. Lead.” Week was created following the example set by Baker, who served as a U.S. senator from Tennessee from 1967 to 1985 and was known as “the great conciliator.”

For details and a full list of programs during “Listen. Learn. Lead.” week, visit the campus events calendar.


Cindi King (865-974-0937,

Patricia Contic (865-974-3869,