Spotlight: Duke University
July 15, 2013 09:00 AM
Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy is among the nation’s oldest public policy programs. It was established in 1971 by Terry Sanford, then president of Duke. His experience as governor of North Carolina and, later, as a U.S. Senator convinced him the country needed ethical leaders capable of rigorous analytical thinking, who also understood the political process. Sanford urged students to set “outrageous ambitions,” a call to action that remains at the core of the school’s identity.
Preparing Policy Leaders
Undergraduate public policy majors were the program’s first students, blazing a trail in an emerging academic field. The professional M.P.P. program began a few years later. Today, Duke’s vibrant public policy community gathers in the Sanford Building, a dramatic neo-Gothic structure with a striking sky-lit atrium. The adjacent Rubenstein Hall houses high-tech lecture halls and classrooms, along with affiliated research centers such as the Duke Center for International Development and the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy.
By design, the M.P.P. program has remained relatively small, with 65-70 students entering each year. The school’s Master’s in International Development Program (MIDP) enrolls a similar number of mid-career professionals from more than 20 nations. Like the M.P.P., the MIDP also emphasizes personal attention and coursework tailored to allow graduates to accomplish their professional objectives. The Ph.D. program places graduates in a variety of academic, corporate, and nonprofit positions. And public policy has become Duke’s most popular undergraduate major, enrolling more than 500 students.
An interdisciplinary spirit is a hallmark of the Sanford School. The school is a campus hub for collaborative initiatives in fields as diverse as energy and the environment, philanthropy, education, health policy, national security, and foreign policy. Its 65 core faculty members represent numerous academic fields including public policy, economics, political science, history, psychology, medicine, and population studies.
The faculty also includes distinguished practitioners from government, law, diplomacy, journalism, international development, and public health. They have been top officials in the Defense and Treasury departments and in Congress, with the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the World Bank, and India’s Administrative Service. Some have led international NGOs and major foundations.
They join forces on projects such as the Cookstove Research Initiative, which seeks practical alternatives to traditional cookstoves, still used by half the world’s population. Breathing the particles emitted by these inefficient stoves in poorly ventilated conditions causes 2 million premature deaths per year.
Sanford graduates have a creative, entrepreneurial approach to problem solving, quantitative and qualitative analytic skills, and the ability to collaborate with multiple stakeholders to craft policy solutions. They build careers in government, business and nonprofits. M.P.P. alum Danny Werfel, formerly OMB controller, was recently named acting head of the IRS. Will Davis is Director of the UN Development Programme, Sarah Dahlgren is Executive Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Adam Grossman is Senior Vice President of marketing for the Boston Red Sox.
Some Sanford alumni seek public office, such as John Hangar, a candidate for Pennsylvania governor in 2014 and former secretary of that state’s Department of Environmental Protection; Raj Goyle, former Kansas legislator; and Erica Lee, a school board member in Houston, Texas. David Usupashvili, an alumnus of Sanford’s international development program, helped draft the constitution of Georgia and now serves as chair of his country’s parliament.
Sandford alumni lead nonprofits, such as Neal Keny-Guyer, founder and CEO of the international relief and development organization Mercy Corps; Michael Sorrell, President, Paul Quinn College;and Bill Tucker Deputy Director of Policy Development for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They also lead businesses, such as Nancy Schlicting, CEO of the Henry Ford Health System, twice named one of the Top 25 Women in Healthcare; John Drescher, Executive Editor, News and Observer;and Delvecchio Finley, CEO, Harbor UCLA Medical Center. Rachael Chong, founder and CEO of Catchafire, was named among Fast Company 100 most creative people in business in 2012.
Kelly Brownell, a public health expert who helped revolutionize thinking about the complex causes of obesity and coined the phrase “toxic food environment,” became Dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy on July 1, 2013. At Yale, Brownell was the James Rowland Angell Professor of Psychology, a Professor of Epidemiology and public health, and Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. TIME Magazine named him among “the world's 100 most influential people” in 2006, citing his role in raising public awareness on the relationship between unhealthy foods and childhood obesity.
Philip F. Bennett
Philip F. Bennett, is the Eugene C. Patterson Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy, is the new Director of the school’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy. He served for two years as Managing Editor of FRONTLINE on PBS and four years as Managing Editor of The Washington Post, during which time the Post won 10 Pulitzer Prizes.
William “Sandy” Darity
William Darity is an Arts & Sciences Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics . He also serves as Chair of the Department of African and African American Studies and co-Director of the Research Network on Racial and Ethnic Inequality. His research focuses on inequality by race, class and ethnicity, stratification economics, schooling and the racial achievement gap, skin shade and labor market outcomes, the economics of reparations, and other issues.
Professor Ken Dodge directs the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy. The center aims to provide a bridge between basic scientific research in children’s development with public policy affecting children and families. Dodge is trained as a clinical and developmental psychologist, has published more than 130 scientific articles, and is the principal investigator for several large research grants. His scholarship addresses the development and prevention of chronic violence in children and adolescents.
ProfessorAnirudh Krishna, Associate Dean for International Academic Programs, investigates how poor communities and individuals in developing countries cope with the structural and personal constraints that result in poverty and powerlessness. His most recent book was One Illness Away: Why People Become Poor and How they Escape Poverty. He leads an innovative new graduate program in India for students and NGO practitioners pursuing careers in international development.
Helen F. Ladd
Helen Ladd, theEdgar T. Thompson Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and professor of economics, is an internationally recognized for her education policy research.She is particularly interested in various aspects school accountability, education finance, teacher labor markets and school choice. She has written extensively about school segregation, teacher labor markets, and teacher quality. She served as President of APPAM in 2010-11.
Professor Kathryn Whetten directs the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research. Her research aims to understand health-related issues for the poor, the disenfranchised and chronically ill, and HIV/AIDS in the deep South and in less wealthy countries.
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