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Research Centers & Programs

The faculty of the Sanford School of Public Policy lead or collaborate with a wide variety of on-campus interdisciplinary research centers that are exploring vital policy questions and bringing provocative and timely speakers to campus. These research hubs can offer students opportunities to work with faculty on ground-breaking research, and to engage with leaders in many fields.

Listed below are institutes, centers and programs housed at the Sanford School, as well as other Duke centers in which public policy faculty members are active. Those led by Sanford School core or secondary faculty members include the faculty director’s name.

Children & Families

Duke Center for Child and Family Policy
Director: Linda Burton
Associate Directors: Liz Ananat, Leslie Babinski, Beth Gifford, Rick Hoyle

The James B. Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy

Ethics and Leadership 

The Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity
Director: William “Sandy” Darity

Executive Director: Eric Mlyn

Hart Leadership Program
Director: Alma Blount

Highlight for Basic Page

  • Photo of nurse talking with a new mother at home

    A Nurse Home-Visiting Program

    Durham Connects nurse Liz Stevens visits with a Durham parent and her child. The Duke Center for Child & Family Policy launched the nurse home visiting program in 2008 as part of research into ways to prevent child neglect. Durham Connects has grown into a Durham nonprofit agency that offers home visits to all Durham County parents. The intervention was tied to reduced emergency visits and an estimated 3-to-1 return on investment.

    Learn more about the research.

    Learn more about the Durham Connects organization on their website.

Samuel and Ronnie Heyman Center for Ethics, Public Policy, and the Professions
Director: Joel Fleishman

Kenan Institute for Ethics


Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
Director: Timothy Profeta

Duke Energy Initiative


World Food Policy Center
Director: Kelly Brownell

Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research (BECR Center)
Director: Peter Ubel


Center for Health Policy & Inequalities Research
Director: Kathryn Whetten

Duke Global Health Institute
Associate Director: Gavin Yamey

Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy
Director: Mark McClellan
Expert: Don Taylor


Duke Center for International Development
Director: Indermit Gill

Duke University Population Research Institute
Associate Director: M. Giovanni Merli


Center for Law, Economics and Public Policy
Director: Matthew Adler

Duke Law Program in Law & Entrepreneurship
Director: Kip Frey

Program in Public Law


DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy
Director: Bill Adair

Duke Reporters' Lab
Director: Bill Adair

Counterterrorism experts Fran Townsend and Amb. Daniel Benjamin discuss “The Evolving Terrorist Threat" at Sanford Sept. 10, 2014.National Security/ Foreign Policy

Counterterrorism and Public Policy Fellows Program
Director: Tim Nichols

Duke Program on American Grand Strategy
Director: Peter Feaver

Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security
Director: David Schanzer

Triangle Institute for Security Studies
Director: Peter Feaver


POLIS: The Center for Political Leadership, Innovation and Service
Director: Frederick "Fritz" Mayer


Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society
Director: Joel Fleishman

Center for the Study of Philanthropy and Voluntarism
Director: Charles Clotfelter

Social Science

Global Inequality Research Initiative
Director: Jay Pearson

The Social Science Research Institute
Director: Thomas Nechyba

Featured Faculty Research: Inequality

Durham, NC is growing, but it has a legacy of inequality. For example, many neighborhoods had "covenants" requiring that excluded non-whites from buying homes. Professor Bob Korstad has been looking into the issue, and his research has been turned into a civic education initiative, Bull City 150: Reckoning with Durham's Past to Build a More Equitable Future. The project culminates in 2019, Durham's 150th birthday.