James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy

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James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
Formation 1993
Type Public policy think tank
Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian
$6.76 million (2012)[1]
Website bakerinstitute.org

The James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, also known as the Baker Institute, is an American think tank on the campus of Rice University in Houston, Texas. Founded in 1993, it functions as a non-partisan center of public policy research. According to the 2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania), the Institute is number 18 (of 60) in the "Top Think Tanks in the United States" and number 9 (of 45) of the "Best University Affiliated Thanks".[2] It is named for James A. Baker III, former United States Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury. The institute's founding director, Edward P. Djerejian, is the former United States Ambassador to Israel and Syria and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. The institute's board of advisors include William Barnett (Chair), Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright and Rice University's President David Leebron.

The institute employs scholars and researchers from a variety of backgrounds. Its current research includes centers for different areas: The Center for the Middle East, The Mexico Center, and The Center for Energy Studies. Other programs include China Studies, Drug Policy, Health Policy Forum, International Economics, Latin America Initiative, Politics and Elections, Religion and Public Policy, Space Policy, Science and Technology, and Tax and Expenditure Policy. The institute is a sponsoring organization for the Iraq Study Group. It is supported mainly by donor contributions.

The institute is affiliated with Rice University, and the university's faculty and students are involved in its research programs and public events.[citation needed] The institute is located on the Rice campus in James A. Baker III Hall, which also houses the School of Social Sciences (including the departments of Economics and Political Science).


The Baker Institute was founded in 1993. James Baker wished for the institute to bring together “statesmen, scholars, and students” and to be “a bridge between the world of ideas and the world of action.”[3] In 1994, a ceremony to honour the groundbreaking for the new building brought together four U.S. presidents (Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush).

The idea for a public policy institute on campus came from Dr. Richard Stoll, director for the Center for the Study of Institutions and Values. In 1994, Ambassador Djerejian was selected as the institute's founding director.

Research Programs[edit]

Center for the Middle East[edit]

The Baker Institute Center for the Middle East has been involved in conflict resolution projects. The focus of the Center includes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Levant, and Women and Human Rights in the Middle East. Research has focused on the civil war in Syria, security in Afghanistan, U.S. relations in the region, energy as it relates to the Middle East, and analysis of the Iran nuclear deal. The program brings together well-known speakers and researchers to offer their insights into the complex challenges facing the Middle East.[4]

Staff in the Center for the Middle East include Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian and Yair Hirschfeld.

China Studies[edit]

The Transnational China Project studies contemporary China and the changes that the nation is undergoing.[5] The Transnational China project is also working on transcribing public service announcements from various cities in China. The transcripts are available at the Center for Digital Scholarship at Fondren Library at Rice University.

Drug Policy[edit]

The Drug Policy Program focuses on implications of the War on Drugs and “pursues research and open debate on local and national drug policies based on common sense, driven by human rights interests, and focused on reducing the death, disease, crime and suffering associated with drug use.”[6]

Health Policy Forum[edit]

The Health Policy Forum is a membership-based group whose corporate and private contributors help support the Baker Institute’s health policy research. The forum, which includes the institute’s Health Economics Program, also provides analysis of reform proposals. The goal of the Health Policy Forum is to facilitate the exchange of ideas in order to spur groundbreaking research and policy decisions, and to foster improved understanding of national and global health concerns, as well as those in Texas, so as to improve the quality of the health care system overall.[citation needed] The Health Policy Forum is tracking implementation of the Affordable Care Act through published research, media and government resources. The latest HPF peer-reviewed publications are studies on the cost-drivers of complex cancer surgery. Other projects include an analysis of regional variations of cancer treatment in Texas, a study of the effect of smoking bans on hospitalization rates, and a study of whether shared savings programs for physicians can reduce overall patient health care expenditures.[7]

Staff include Peter Hotez and John Mendelsohn.

International Economics[edit]

The International Economics Program focuses particularly on emerging markets, but also on debt, China’s economic growth, and governing the global economy. Policy recommendations are produced on “how global economic trends are developing, and what policies can optimally address the challenges that arise.”[8]

Latin America Initiative[edit]

The Latin America Initiative has two main projects, the Americas Project and the Vecinos Lecture Series. The initiative focuses on the challenges and opportunities that face the region and “brings together leading stakeholders from government, the private sector, academia and civil society to exchange their views on pressing issues confronting the region.”[9]

Mexico Center[edit]

The Mexico Center works to create policy research on issues that affect the Mexico and the United States. The center's research agenda currently focuses on eight major issues: trade, energy, telecommunications, health care, infrastructure, education, human mobility, and the administration of justice/security.[10]

Politics and Elections[edit]

The Politics and Elections program "primarily advances knowledge and understanding of political institutions and elections in the United States and Latin America. Substantive areas include political campaigns, electoral systems, political change, party activism, regime transitions and voting behavior."[11]

Staff include Douglas Brinkley, Robert M. Stein, and Sarah Whiting.

Religion and Public Policy[edit]

The Religion Policy Program studies the effects of religion on politics in America and around the world on several topics, including voting patterns, the role of faith-based organizations, conflict resolution, and religious fundamentalism in the Middle East.[12]

Space Policy[edit]

Houston and Rice have worked with NASA.[citation needed] Because of the proximity to the Texas Medical Center, the Space Program has recently begun a collaboration with physicians interested in space medicine.[citation needed] The International Space Medicine Summit brings together “leading physicians, space biomedical scientists, engineers, astronauts and cosmonauts from the space-faring nations for high-level discussions about the research needed to prevent and/or mitigate the medical and biomedical challenges spacefarers experience in long-duration spaceflight.”[13]

Staff include George W. S. Abbey and Neal F. Lane.

Science and Technology[edit]

The Science and Technology Program studies the gap that often emerges between new sciences and technologies and applicable public policy. Increasing public knowledge and awareness of science is also a priority.[citation needed] The program focuses on issues that include “space, health, medicine, energy and the environment, national and domestic security, science education, and the public’s understanding and trust of science.”[14]

Staff include Robert Bazell, Neal F. Lane, Kristin R.W. Matthews, and Robert Curl.

Tax and Expenditure Policy[edit]

The Tax and Expenditure Policy program focuses on tax reform and public finance. Projects focus on “earnings volatility, income mobility and inequality, alternative funding options for public schools, state and local investment tax incentive, state sales taxation of services, the optimal taxation of electronic commerce, the effects of the property tax, the effects of adopting education vouchers, and public employee pension liabilities.”[15]

Other Research Areas[edit]

  • Conflict Resolution
  • Center for Energy Studies
  • Kelly Day Endowment on the Status of Women and Human Rights in the Middle East
  • Public Diplomacy

Student Involvement[edit]

Baker Institute Student Forum[edit]

The Baker Institute Student Forum (BISF) is a student-run organization that connects the mission and work of the Baker Institute to the students on Rice's campus.

Jesse Jones Summer Leadership Center[edit]

Each summer, the Baker Institute provides stipends to students who work in Washington, D.C. Students must conduct policy research at government agencies, think tanks, nongovernmental organizations, or on Capitol Hill.[citation needed] Students secure their internships independently of the institute, but get support from experts and staff members. The mission of the program is to "offer Rice University undergraduate students hands-on experience in the world of public policy research and analysis in our nation's capital."[16] The program was founded in 2004 and since its inception, the program has funded 87 students to work in Washington, D.C. for the summer.[17]

Internships Abroad[edit]

The Baker Institute also offers internship programs abroad for students. The Moscow Summer Intern Program sends a delegation of university students to Bauman Moscow State Technical University for 2 weeks to explore and learn about space science. Universities affiliated with the program include Rice University, Brown University, University of Houston, University of Southern California, and University of Texas at El Paso. This is the only student program at the Baker Institute that is open to university students outside of Rice. The program seeks "to develop international collaborations in which engineering and science students from different countries work together to design, manufacture and operate space science projects.The intent is to emulate the successes of the international cooperation and innovation that formed the basis of the International Space Station and replicate the process at the university level for the next generation of space engineers and scientists."[18] Students also have an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in public diplomacy in the Middle East. Student leadership is a critical component of the program.[19]

Lecture Series[edit]

  • Chevron Excellence in Leadership Energy Lecture Series
  • Robert A. Mosbacher Global Issues Series
  • Shell Distinguished Lecture Series
  • Civic Scientist Lecture Series


  1. ^ "James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy 2012 Annual Report" (PDF). Retrieved October 23, 2012. 
  2. ^ James G. McGann (Director) (February 4, 2015). "2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report". Retrieved February 14, 2015.  Other "Top Think Tank" rankings include #4 (of 30) in Energy and Resource Policy and #78 (of 80) in International Development Policy,
  3. ^ http://bakerinstitute.org/the-history-of-the-baker-institute/
  4. ^ http://bakerinstitute.org/center-for-the-middle-east/about-center-middle-east/
  5. ^ http://bakerinstitute.org/china-studies-program/about-china-studies/
  6. ^ http://bakerinstitute.org/drug-policy-program/about-drug-program/
  7. ^ http://bakerinstitute.org/health-policy-program/
  8. ^ http://bakerinstitute.org/international-economics-program/about-international-economics/
  9. ^ http://bakerinstitute.org/the-latin-america-initiative-program/about-latin-america-initiative/
  10. ^ http://bakerinstitute.org/mexico-center/about-the-mexico-center/
  11. ^ http://bakerinstitute.org/political-science-program/
  12. ^ http://bakerinstitute.org/religion-policy-program/about-religion-polcy/
  13. ^ http://bakerinstitute.org/space-policy-program/about-space-policy/
  14. ^ http://bakerinstitute.org/science-technology/about-the-science-technology-program/
  15. ^ http://bakerinstitute.org/tax-and-expenditure-policy/about-tax-and-expenditure-policy/
  16. ^ http://bakerinstitute.org/students/jesse-jones-leadership-center-summer-in-dc-policy-research-internship-program/
  17. ^ http://bakerinstitute.org/students/jesse-jones-leadership-center-summer-in-dc-policy-research-internship-program/
  18. ^ http://bakerinstitute.org/students/moscow-summer-intern-program/
  19. ^ http://bakerinstitute.org/public-diplomacy/

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 29°43′00″N 95°24′10″W / 29.7166°N 95.4027°W / 29.7166; -95.4027