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UTC Political Science Class visits lawmakers

Students in the UTC Political Science Department’s State and Local Government class, taught by Dr. Jean Howard-Hill, presented findings and recommendations of their Tennessee State of Affairs Report to lawmakers in Nashville recently.

Students had the opportunity to make a presentation from the Senate Chambers. They sat in the chairs of Tennessee senators, and each took to the “well” to speak. “They also met in the private chambers of the Lt. Governor Ramsey. House Speaker Naifeh not only met with them in his private chambers, but also crowded them into his own office, as he provided them with Tennessee Blue Books,” said Howard-Hill.

Students wore the State of Tennessee pins given to them by Governor Phil Bredesen as they presented by standing and articulating from their research findings. They gave statistics; analyzed data and findings; presented comparative analysis; stated the public policy considerations behind their recommendations; and answered questions posed to them. The topics included the proposed campus library; a surplus of Hope Scholarship money being directed to Higher Education; and a discussion of channeling funds from the Cigarette Tax to higher education.

“After their presentations, sitting in House Session, and co-mingling with key state officials, students were invited and encouraged to apply for the legislative and governor’s internships. This made the luncheon with our three UTC interns, LaShunda Hill, Eric Fox and Tiffany Hagar even more meaningful, as they shared with students their legislative experiences,” Howard-Hill said.

There are numerous purposes for the UTC Student’s Tennessee State of Affairs Report, according to Howard-Hill. It provides an opportunity for students to research state and local government, recognize weaknesses and strengths, identify issues, and engage in problem solving as they draw conclusions from their research and make projections and recommendations relating to the future of Tennessee. “Students have worked hard, and have shown a great deal of enthusiasm as they have learned just how important it is to understand and be actively involved in impacting not only their future, but their present, says Dr. Howard-Hill.

Howard-Hill extended an invitation to Governor Bredesen, Lt. Governor Ramsey, Tennessee State Commissioners and members of the Legislature, to come to the UTC campus in fall 2007, attend classes, engage in academic discussions, and get to see how higher education at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has positively impacted the lives of students.

“What I have attempted to do in the classroom is to prepare students to be presently involved in government while they are in an academic environment of research, and where that research can be analyzed within the context of what is learned in class and what is actually going on in the real world. This kind of academic experience is invaluable to students.”

Comments from students:

"I thought that we would go and the state legislators would listen to our reports and just disregard what we had to say. But when we went to Nashville the state officials were very interested in what we had to say and they actually took our reports very seriously. I felt that our class made a huge impact on how the legislators look at UTC. It was also nice to be able to present findings that actually made a difference in the State of Tennessee."

Jennifer Warren

"This trip was also very enriching to the students who had the opportunity to attend, as many students began individual personal relationships with high-ranking state government officials. After seeing our government in action and meeting with Tennessee's elected officials, we have seen the importance of being informed and active citizens, and will begin to fill out roles as leaders of our state and our University."

Branden Schiavon

"Our class trip to Nashville was the opportunity of a lifetime. We were able to do things others could only imagine. Meeting with top officials, presenting our research to them, and actually sitting in the State Senate and House was amazing. I know I have made connections that will benefit my future. Our representatives were interested in who we were as people and where we came from."

Jenny Stimson

Political Science class in Nashville

Political Science class trip

Political Science class trip

Political Science Class visit

May 1, 2007