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April 13, 2011: News, Research & Events from the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
Baker Institute Update: What Rice students think about the job market; Japan follow-up
Baker Institute Student Forum evaluates President Obama's efforts on jobs
With college graduation looming, the struggling economy and soft job market are on the minds of many Rice students pondering their next steps. That includes members of the Baker Institute Student Forum (BISF).

The forum, which is funded by the Baker Institute, recently held a debate to evaluate the success of President Obama's job creation policies. A panel of students from the Rice University Young Democrats and the Rice University Conservative Forum, pictured above, presented opposing perspectives on the president's policies before an audience of more than 50 students and faculty.

The discussion, which was attended by Rice President David Leebron and Baker Institute founding director Edward P. Djerejian, covered topics including the stimulus package and the role of government in job creation.

"We had four students on the conservative side and four students on the liberal side who were examining President Obama's performance on the jobs issue," said Myles Bugbee '12, BISF events committee chair and president of the Young Democrats. "This was a really good substantive debate where you had a core values clash between one side that supports more government intervention in the economy and one side that supports less government intervention."

Following the March 22 debate, the audience had the option to vote on the impact of the president's policies. Of the 30 votes cast, 17 were in support of Obama's policies, seven were against and six were undecided.

This was the second such debate sponsored by BISF. In October, students from both sides of the aisle "graded" President Obama’s first two years in office. BISF president Lauren Baba '11 said the response has been enthusiastic, and that more debates are planned.

"The BISF is the one student organization on campus dedicated to informing the Rice student body about public policy and politics," she said. The group, which has approximately 190 members, is "nonpartisan, which allows the organization to focus on sharing public policy information with a broad, campus-wide audience. It also allows us to engage in spirited discussions and debates where a variety of opinions are represented."

BISF faculty sponsor Bonner Means Baker Fellow Joe Barnes says the student forum is a critical part of the Baker Institute's commitment to education, adding that, "The BISF is a great place to start if a student thinks he or she might be interested in public policy but doesn't know for sure yet."

The jobs debate impressed audience member Chandler Davidson, Rice's Radoslav Tsanoff Professor of Public Affairs Emeritus. He described the exchange as "two groups of students with sharply different views, well-prepared for an intellectual joust followed by intelligent, probing questions from an audience composed of students, faculty, administrators and, on this occasion, both the institute's director and the university's president.

“I hope this series continues indefinitely. In my view, it's Rice at its best."

Panel on the nuclear aftermath of the Japanese tsunami draws 200

More than 200 people attended an April 8 lunchtime panel discussion on the aftermath of the events at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant.

The panel featured Rice University physics professor Paul Padley, Ph.D.; Amy Myers Jaffe, the Wallace S. Wilson Fellow in Energy Studies and director of the Energy Forum at the Baker Institute; radiation oncologist Dr. James D. Cox, who oversees the new proton treatment center at the MD Anderson Cancer Center; and Erich A. Schneider, Ph.D., an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at The University of Texas at Austin who specializes in nuclear engineering.

Neal Lane, Ph.D., former science adviser to President Clinton and the senior fellow in science and technology policy at the Baker Institute, moderated the discussion. The event was presented by the Baker Institute Science and Technology Policy Program and Energy Forum.

A webcast of the April 8 event "Japan: The Aftermath" is now available.

Baker Institute interns win Goldwater, Udall fellowships

Rahul Rekhi '13, a Baker Institute Student Forum member, is among 275 American students named Goldwater Scholars for 2011. The scholarship covers up to $7,500 of eligible tuition and tuition-related expenses annually.

Benjamin Chou '13 and Rebecca Jaffe '12 have been named 2011 Morris K. Udall Scholars and will each receive a $5,000 scholarship. Chou has conducted research on Chinese energy policy with Steven Lewis, Ph.D., the Baker Institute's C.V. Starr Transnational China Fellow. Jaffe joined the Baker Institute Energy Forum last year in rural Morocco, where she spent a month helping with a project that harvests potable water from fog.

This summer, Rekhi, Chou and Jaffe will intern in Washington, D.C., as part of the Baker Institute's Jesse Jones Leadership Center Summer in D.C. Policy Research Internship Program.

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The James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy is a nonpartisan public policy think tank located on the campus of Rice University in Houston, Texas. The institute's distinguished fellows and scholars research and collaborate with experts from academia, government, the media, business and private organizations on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy.
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