Courageous Conversations in Public Policy

Student co-presidents Chloe Cohen and Ryan Alexander spoke with us about this burgeoning new Batten program.

Chloe Cohen (left) and Ryan G. Alexander (right)
Chloe Cohen (left) and Ryan G. Alexander (right)
BATTEN REPORTS: Tell me about Courageous Conversations in Policy. What compelled you to launch this organization?

ALEXANDER & COHEN: Courageous Conversations in Policy (CCP) is a space not only for discussing, but also for developing actionable solutions to policy issues of inequality, race and social justice on a national, state, city and even school level. We wanted to create a space outside of the classroom for individuals of all backgrounds to discuss the issues that they feel com- pelled to discuss, and hopefully to provide a path to solving them.

BATTEN REPORTS: What are some defining features of CCP?

ALEXANDER & COHEN: CCP meetings are open to everyone who is interested in the topic of discussion. In addition to Batten students, we welcome faculty, staff, administration and even prospective students. The current structure is bi-weekly meetings with a few larger events throughout the semester, so members can commit as much or as little time as their schedule allows.

BATTEN REPORTS: Since CCP’s launch in February, what has impressed you most about the program’s reception?

ALEXANDER & COHEN: We’ve been very impressed with the support and excitement for what CCP is doing from Batten faculty, staff and administration, as well as from the university commu- nity as a whole. Batten media has been following our story closely, and the Cavalier Daily is actually reporting on our efforts as well.

BATTEN REPORTS: How does CPP fit into Batten’s diversity plan?

ALEXANDER & COHEN: We are working with Batten’s director of undergraduate admissions, Anne Carter Mulligan, to increase minority outreach, which we hope will lead to a more diverse student body at the Batten School.

BATTEN REPORTS: How do you see (or hope to see) CCP evolve?

ALEXANDER & COHEN: We hope to see CCP grow in size and become a more established organization. As CCP gains more members, we plan to create an executive board and perhaps develop committees that will allow us to tackle more conversations. Along with growing our organization, we hope to eventually apply for official Contracted Independent Orga- nization (CIO) status to help ensure that CCP continues to operate as a permanent organization long after we have graduated.

Ryan G. Alexander is a third-year public policy and anthropology double major. Dedicated to diversity, community engagement and leadership, he serves as president of the Batten Undergraduate Council and as a peer advisor for the Office of African-American Affairs. He intends to pursue a law degree and to advocate for social justice both domestically and abroad.

Chloe Cohen is a third-year Spanish major and a first-year Accelerated Master of Public Policy candidate. She serves as a peer advisor for the Office of African- American Affairs and as the student representative to the Dean’s Search Committee at Batten. This summer, she will be a policy fellow with the Atlanta City Council. Her policy interests include education, criminal justice and social policy.