Thanks to our Team Harris ambassador, Tyler Barron, for sitting down and chatting with us about his Harris experience! 

What is your favorite class so far?

This past quarter I completed a course on energy policy and human behavior with Professor Kim Wolski. The class focused on how to successfully and efficiently communicate environmental and energy-related policies, building support between culturally diverse communities and increasing broad cooperation from the public. This course drew from multiple fields of behavioral science and examined the psychological and social aspects of assorted energy-related behaviors.

My favorite part of this course was not only the small class size, and subsequent classes dedicated to lively discussions, but also learning how to motivate behaviors and design policy that enhances the adoption of greener energies. This class was something that I not only enjoyed academically, but strongly feel I will be taking material from in my professional life as well.

What are your top three reasons to choose Harris? 

For me, going back to gradate school was heavily determined by my desire to enter into the field of lobbying/government consulting. As the field evolves, an MPP has become increasingly desirable. After finishing my undergraduate career with a heavier focus on qualitative academic material, rounding myself out professionally with a degree that was significantly more focused on quantitative analytics made Harris the obvious choice. My top three reasons were:

  1. The reputation placed on a more quantitative approach towards creating and examining policy.
  2. The support systems outside of the classroom academically and professionally are first-tier and work effectively to place students in the classes and professions that they desire upon graduation.
  3. Going to Harris, and more broadly the University of Chicago, places you in a category that not many people are lucky enough to experience. The opportunities afforded to students at this University are immense and the name of this institution carries weight. Belonging to this network immediately places you in the realm of something larger than yourself and I wanted to be apart of that.

What is the one thing you think everyone should know about the Harris community? 

Harris is genuinely unique in the way students help one another achieve academic success, particularly in the Core. While I have heard stories from colleagues at other universities that students are willing to step on their fellow classmates’ toes to get the best grade of the class, Harris is an organically collaborative environment. My classmates are wonderful, but more importantly people who are consistently willing to ensure that when someone needs help they are available. There is a distinct attitude within the student body to make sure that everyone crosses the finish line despite their struggles. The diversity of thought(s) and backgrounds within Harris is really something special.

I think that this willingness to always provide assistance within a graduate program is truly unique and something that should be stressed more frequently.

Have you taken any electives outside Harris? 

Having an ‘open campus’ is incredibly unique and something that many students take full advantage of in order to not only take a break from the policy or quantitative side of Harris, but to also explore the dozens of fascinating topics available at other schools. While I have not personally taken any courses outside of Harris yet, I am enrolled in two electives for the Winter Quarter. The first is a course on the development of adolescences, cross-listed in the Department of Comparative Human Development, examining stage-specific developmental processes that can help understanding gaps in society's diverse youth. Studying broad topics like socioeconomic status and cultural upbringing, I hope that this course can help further shed light on the ways in which inequality is create, but also the ways in which effective policy can be used to remedy these societal ills.

The second course that I will be taking is one on community organizing through the School of Social Service Administration. This course will focus how organizing brings about collective action. Analyzing both historical and contemporary community organizing efforts, I hope to learn how to mobilize individuals to engage in public policy and employ these organizing techniques through in-class exercises and group projects.

What did you do the summer before you came to Harris? 

Before I came to Harris I worked on Capitol Hill as a Policy Fellow in the Office of Raul Grijalva. I worked on issues related to tribal sovereignty and rights, immigrant detention facilities, energy policy, and socioeconomic inequality. My office was closely aligned with the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the House Committee on Natural Resources. Following that experience I worked for a short period at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee before accepting my spot at the Harris School.

While my work experience is not unique, I believe it is important to mention the fact that the professional tenure of Harris students is incredibly diverse. There are students who come to Harris straight from their undergraduate institution, and others who come after working for ten years. There is no such thing as a ‘general Harris applicant,’ but rather a Harris applicant who is the correct fit.

What is your role with Harris Student Government (HSG)? 

HSG is the leading student organization at Harris and acts as a liaison between the faculty and administration for the Harris student community. HSG represents the student body at Harris through interaction with faculty, administration, and the University of Chicago community at-large. Actions from HSG attempt to address issues of concern or interest in an effort to act as one voice to foster continued academic and social life at Harris. I am a member of HSG and serve as on of the Co-Chairs for the Social Committee.