Imagine a group of students so energized by policy issues that they form a club to write papers—outside of class.
Such is the band of 20 or so involved in the Roosevelt Institution’s new Hopkins chapter, an organization interested in furthering public debate and affecting policy in the areas of education, the environment, information technology and security, international relations, public health, and urban policy.
The Roosevelt Institution is a student-run think tank—created at Stanford University in 2004 after disappointment over the outcome of the presidential election—with chapters sprouting on college and university campuses around the country. At the time of this writing, the Hopkins chapter, which started last fall, was among 65 such organizations.
Co-founders and Krieger School juniors Laurel Murphy and Thuy Tran, both public health majors, said they decided to launch the effort here because, as Murphy says, “Hopkins is the perfect place for this. There’s so much intellectual capital here.”
The goal of the organization, both at Hopkins and nationally, is to bring the ideas of students to the attention of politicians, policy makers, and the press. Named for Presidents Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, the group is organized around policy centers, and while non-partisan, its leanings tend to be liberal.
At Hopkins, the group got started with policy papers late in the fall, and its Environment, Sustainability and Alternative Energy policy center lately has been circulating a paper on “Considerations for Sustainable Design on the Homewood Campus,” making the case for “green” building to the university’s leadership.
Another Roosevelt Fellow (as committee members are called) has submitted a paper on the treatment of children with AIDS to the national organization’s Roosevelt Review, a journal of undergraduate and graduate research and policy proposals.
Murphy and Tran say the group has consulted with Hopkins’ Institute for Policy Studies and hopes the institute’s master’s degree students could serve as mentors to Roosevelt participants.
Thuy said her interest in policy grew after taking a course at IPS and volunteering in and around Baltimore. She’s particularly attuned to issues concerning housing, and hopes her work will provide an understanding of the causes of social and public health problems she has witnessed.
Murphy and the other Roosevelt Institution members say they are involved not because they particularly like to write papers, but because they wanted an outlet for the things they feel passionate about. Says Murphy, “Why not try to change the world right now?”