Students explore policy challenges, solutions at the Baker Institute

College students are increasingly engaging in policy matters, demonstrating a keen awareness of how policy impacts individual lives in meaningful ways. At Rice, students are invited to take advantage of the Baker Institute’s many opportunities for involvement. “The Baker Institute Student Forum fosters debate around important domestic and international policy issues and ensures that students’ interests are reflected in the institute’s programs,” says Edward P. Djerejian, the institute’s director.

Through the Baker Institute Student Forum (BISF), Rice students interact with the institute’s fellows and experts at brown bag lunches or other small-group gatherings throughout the school year. They even put their policy knowledge to the test at trivia game nights and organized debates.

BISF also hosts an annual undergraduate policy competition each spring. Teams of students prepare original policy proposals that address the year’s topic; the top three teams are awarded cash prizes. “Students are interested in issues ranging from U.S.-China relations, to drug policy, to affirmative action,” said Joe Barnes, Bonner Means Baker Fellow and BISF faculty advisor. “They are also interested in more immediate, professional concerns, such as information on acquiring internships in government and think tanks, an important step toward a career in public policy.”

Two other Baker Institute programs prepare students seeking to transition from policy studies to policymaking. The Moscow Summer Intern Program, part of the institute’s Space Policy Program, provides an immersive two-week experience in Russia focused on space science and policy. Students meet with cosmonauts and space engineering experts, tour Moscow’s space facilities and learn about the international collaboration that underscores U.S. space exploration activities, particularly at the International Space Station.

Under the Jesse Jones Leadership Center Summer in D.C. Policy Research Internship Program, students receive stipends to cover living expenses while they complete policy-focused internships with government agencies, think tanks and nonprofit organizations in D.C. The most recent cohort of students, for instance, landed internships with the U.S. State Department, the Migration Policy Institute, the American Jewish Committee, and the Urban Institute, among others.

More than 130 alumni of the program are working in public policy domestically and abroad, including serving as foreign service officers, environmental experts, federal prosecutors and tenure-track faculty members. The application process for the 2020 D.C. intern class will open later this fall.

Visit our website for more information on internships and other student opportunities at the Baker Institute.