The Baker Scholars Program consistently attracts the University of Tennessee’s most dedicated and academically curious students by offering a unique and meaningful opportunity for engagement in the field of public policy. The central undertaking of each Baker Scholar is a project that involves either research on a specific policy issue or implementation of a creative initiative that contributes toward understanding of public policy issues, governance, civic engagement, or public service.
Scholars are paired with faculty or professional mentors who serve as resources and help direct their project. In addition to their project work, scholars are strongly encouraged to participate in Baker School events such as guest lectures and conferences, giving scholars the chance to expand their networks of professional contacts and hear first-hand accounts from political insiders.
The Baker Scholars Program is intended to enrich the participant’s college experience by engaging them in an exploration of public policy, governance or public service over the remaining 3-4 semesters of their undergraduate career. Scholars will have access to University faculty, professionals in the community, and the Baker School staff to help them structure their experience. Students who complete the program will receive a scholars designation on their official University transcript.
Baker Scholars complete one of two types of projects:
- A Research Thesis that investigates a specific public policy issue.
- A Creative Initiative that is designed to contribute toward an understanding of public policy issues, improved governance, civic engagement, or public service.
Scholars work under the guidance of a faculty mentor but are expected to demonstrate a high degree of initiative and independence in developing and carrying out their project plan. By conducting research or organizing an initiative to address important social issues, Baker Scholars assist the University in fulfilling its land-grant mission.
What are the expectations of a Baker Scholar?
- Enroll in BCPP 317: Baker Scholar Seminar for one credit-hour in the spring semester of junior and senior year;
- Baker Scholars meet regularly with a faculty mentor and make substantial progress on chosen project each semester;
- Have semester check-ins with the Director of Undergraduate Studies;
- Complete written project report and participate in a research showcase during the spring of senior year; and
- Actively participate in Baker School events and activities for networking among Baker Scholars.
Who should apply to become a Baker Scholar?
- Juniors with a GPA of 3.35 or higher
- Students of any major with an interest in public policy or an issue of current relevance
2023 Baker Scholar Cohorts
Alexandria Anderson (Johnson City, Tenn.)
Thesis: Unsheltered Living: The Severity of the Street Condition in the Homelessness Crisis
Jackson Scott (Knoxville, Tenn.)
Thesis: The Eagle’s Eye on the Rising Dragon: Why the United States has Shifted its View of China
Meredith Bailey (Greeneville, Tenn.)
Major: Political Science
Thesis: Ballad Health: Understanding Appalachia’s Regional Healthcare Monopoly