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News from Diplomacy Lab…

In the Fall 2015, the University of Tennessee joined Diplomacy Lab, after application by the Baker Center. Three UT faculty and students groups are participating:

  1. Evaluating Diplomatic Intervention in International Conflicts Krista Wiegand, PhD, Baker Faculty Fellow and Assoc. Professor, Political Science
  2. International Correction Reform and Human Rights Protections for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) Inmates in Latin America and/or Africa – Bharat Mehra, PhD, Associate Professor, UT College of Communications & Information Sciences
  3. Case Studies of Communication Strategies/Tactics of Police Units in Democracies – Catherine Luther, PhD, Professor of journalism and electronic media, UT College of Communications & Information Sciences

We will feature updates from each group as the Labs proceed throughout the semester.  First an explanation of Diplomacy Lab from the Department of State website:

  1. What is the Diplomacy Lab?

The Diplomacy Lab enables the State Department to “course-source” research and innovation related to foreign policy by harnessing the efforts of students and faculty at universities across the country.

Students participating in the Diplomacy Lab explore real-world challenges identified by the Department and work under the guidance of faculty members with expertise in a field related to the project. Students also discuss these issues with State Department officials several times throughout the semester. The Diplomacy Lab allows students to contribute directly to the policymaking process, while helping the State Department tap into an underutilized reservoir of intellectual capital. Universities participating in Diplomacy Lab include:

  • College of William and Mary
  • Florida International University
  • John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • Hunter College
  • Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis
  • Miami University
  • Missouri University of Science & Technology
  • Montana State University
  • Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Syracuse University
  • University of California – San Diego
  • University of Oklahoma (Secretariat)
  • University of Kansas
  • University of New Mexico
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Tennessee
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Washington
  • Virginia Tech
  • Yale University


International Correction Reform and Human Rights Protections for

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) Inmates in

Latin America and/or Africa

Bharat Mehra, PhD
Associate Professor, UT School of Information Sciences

Bharat Mehra leads a conference call with the State Department and graduate students to discuss international corrections reform and human rights protections.

As a faculty advisor of five information science students in the University of Tennessee’s School of Information Sciences, we are participating in the US Department of State’s Diplomacy Lab. I value the collaborative experience for all stakeholders concerned. Some of the benefits include:

  • Students engage with State Department officials to shape policy development in an urgent area of applied research related to international correction reform and human rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people around the world.
  • The State Department gets a critical, reflective, and skilled group of students to develop current and cutting-edge research information giving them leverage to further human rights advocacy on behalf of this disenfranchised population.
  • The project experiences allow the team to develop practical research applications, information and technology use, and interactive GIS maps to represent current trends, baseline protections, and best practices that support the government in making life better for people on the margins of society from around the world.
  • The project furthers intersections between people, information, and technology to meet social justice agendas that adds to the body of world knowledge and also helps inform social justice advocacy.

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