CONWAY, Ark. (July 27, 2018) – Hendrix College student Drew
Coker ’19 recently published Protecting
Drinking Water in Arkansas: Challenges and Opportunities in the “Natural” State
through the Arkansas Policy Program (APP). The report was developed in
partnership with the Arkansas Public Policy Panel.
Developed by Hendrix politics professor Dr. Jay Barth with the
support of the Bill and Connie Bowen Odyssey Professorship, APP builds upon
Barth’s ongoing public policy and public opinion research and advocacy work
related to Arkansas. Through APP, students and faculty provide nonpartisan,
original analyses of key public policy issues in Arkansas through a new
undergraduate think tank.
Protecting Drinking Water in
information on public water systems, regulated and unregulated contaminants
that can threaten human health, how residents can learn more about their tap
water, and policy recommendations to ensure all Arkansans receive safe drinking
water. It also notes that outdated infrastructure and water resource management
do the most harm to vulnerable citizens: children, those living in poverty, and
communities of color who already suffer from lack of resources.
Coker, an international relations major from Russellville, has
long paid attention to environmental problems facing Arkansas. “My parents
instilled in me from an early age a healthy respect of the environment and the
effects that humans can have on it,” he said.
From the moment Coker learned of his acceptance into APP, he knew
he wanted his report to address some type of environmental concern. Barth helped
him hone in on examining the quality of drinking water to illustrate how public
policy can have a bearing on fixing environmental problems, and provided
guidance throughout the report’s development. Anna Weeks, environmental policy
coordinator for the Arkansas Public Policy Panel, shared her expertise related
to the research process and helped Coker pinpoint significant details to
highlight in the report.
“Over the three years of the undergraduate think tank, students
who’ve developed reports have worked with foundations and advocacy groups on an
array of issues, but Drew is the first who’s had a particular interest in the
environment,” Barth said. “This well-done project that hopes to empower the
citizens of the state to ask the right questions about their drinking water
quality really expands the scope of the APP’s work to date.”
Arkansas has allowed drinking water quality to deteriorate over
the years, Coker said, but public policy provides an avenue for action.
“When we as a society acknowledge something as a problem it
needs to be addressed, plain and simple,” he said. “I believe that with the
prescriptive elements outlined in the report and realistic applications of this
public policy, these problems can be addressed properly and remedied.”
For a free PDF file of the latest report or to learn more about
APP, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or download the report here.
About Hendrix College
A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix
College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal
arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40
Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic
quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture
in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has
been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more,