A trio of UT students from the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education got a chance to study, collaborate, and meet with other women from around the world at the recent Women in Global Policy conference in Washington, D.C.
Mallory Ladd, Christine Ajinjeru, and Jayde Aufrecht attended the weeklong event, which included discussions and debates, as well as visits to places where the country’s international polices are made and put to the test, including the U.S. Department of State. The three are part of the Energy Science and Engineering doctoral program at the Bredesen Center.
“We got to meet with diplomats, politicians, managers from agencies, officials from non-governmental organizations—really a wide range of backgrounds,” said Ajinjeru. “It was inspiring to see women getting together to tackle policies that impact the world.”
The trio split up for breakout sessions, which were themed around specific areas or problems around the world. For example, one activity was themed around finding solutions to one of two humanitarian crises: an international refugee situation or an HIV/AIDS outbreak.
Ladd said the exercise forced participants to focus on finding the best solution for everyone, even if it means making some concessions.
“There were only six women with science backgrounds in the entire event, and we were three of them,” Aufrecht said, suggesting the conference gave them a chance to practice “science diplomacy.”
“It was helpful for us to hear from attendees from other backgrounds, like political science, because it gave us a new perspective on the impact of policies and solutions,” she said.
The students praised the Public Leadership Education Network, which hosted the conference; the Bredesen Center for encouraging them to attend; and VolStarter, which allowed them to crowd fund the trip.
“The Bredesen Center is creating a new breed of scientist, one that bridges gaps in research, policy, and outcome,” said Ladd. “We need that now more than ever.”
Having experienced the conference, the students say they hope to see UT become a member school of the PLEN network, which would allow future students the opportunity to attend the conference at discounted rates.