Sitting on a bus in Uganda, Pearce Godwin PPS’08 felt the urge to write. He had been following the political news from his home state of North Carolina and felt troubled by what he saw as increasingly vitriolic political rhetoric.
As somebody with a lot of access to information still am not educated on all of the things that I feel I should be educated on. And so, that's kind of a foundational question of democracy - how, with a sprawling public that has a lot of different issues and people who assign different importance to different issues, how do you get people to a place where everybody has the same facts, everyone is operating with the same types of policy understanding? How do we get to a place where people are having meaningful debate?
North Carolina has 58 community colleges, serving approximately 700,000 students annually, spread all across the state. Jennifer Haygood MPP’01 is one of the system’s top administrators.
"There's a very specific reason why I’m interested in Public Policy and I think a lot of it has to do with my upbringing. I'm an American Muslim born and raised very much in the post-9/11 generation."
"You have to be willing to take up those societal labels you're given because you really cannot escape society's perception of you. I feel that it is futile to spend my life working to disprove people's perceptions of me when I could be working towards a tangible goal. I don't want my everyday life to be, I wake up in the morning and I have to work ten times as hard to get past certain things just so we can have a conversation."
Across the country, newspapers are evolving. As print subscriptions and advertising revenue fall, they are increasingly becoming digital media organizations. As executive editor for the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer John Drescher MPP’88 is leading his newsroom’s digital transition.
“I’m interested in the intersectionality of religion and policy, and how policy informs religious freedom. Especially in today's climate, I think it’s particularly important with our current presidency, Islamophobia, and things like that. I think evaluating the ways in which your religious freedoms affect other people is important. I personally define religious freedom as [allowing] for all people to be able to practice what they want without fear of repercussions or for their safety, like when people don’t want to admit their religious identity because of potential dangers, like with Islamophobia. Building on that, the right to exclude is very narrow. I think educating yourself is huge, because you don’t want that burden to fall on someone when it’s already hard to speak up in the first place, and learning more about other people’s beliefs will ultimately go back to that - to affecting our policies.
Beth Gifford takes a data-driven approach to studying education and criminal justice policies affecting children and their families. She joined the Sanford School in July as assistant research professor of public policy, after being part of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy (CCFP) since 2005.
“I’m currently working on my readings for ethics. It’s for the MPP class. It’s really cool. Jay Pearson is the professor and he’s really great. I think he really contextualizes a lot of issues and also looks into the intersectionality of those issues. So things aren’t just isolated problems, they’re all interconnected. To be honest, I had never really considered public policy as something I wanted to pursue in graduate school. I was a history major in undergrad, I worked for 2 years in a AmeriCorps program in St. Louis city and I worked at a public high school in education and it kind of made me realize that a lot of the issues I was seeing with my students didn’t solely stem from problems within the education system but other things too such as their health, home life, and stress levels, and that was why they were having trouble. I looked into public policy, and I realized that I wanted to make more of a concrete change within the system in order to improve the lives of others.
Stefanie Feldman PPS’10 has seen America’s gun control debate play out before. Like many people, she remembers watching the news reports about the murders at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. But in the wake of the killings, Feldman, at the time a policy advisor to Vice President Joe Biden at the White House, would get an opportunity most American didn’t—she was part of the team leading the development of policies President Obama and Vice President Biden would issue in order to address gun violence and mental health.
“Well initially, taking public policy 155 (Introduction to Public Policy), I was not very sure about my decision to go through the public policy track. However, taking more electives and core courses, I see that there’s much more to public policy than the core courses. It’s a very interdisciplinary major which features research, business implementation, micro and macroeconomics, and even facets of cultural anthropology. So it’s just a very diverse major that’s for so many people.”
“I went into the family business,” says Assistant Professor Simon Miles, a historian who researches U.S.-Soviet relations during and after the Cold War. When he was undergraduate, “history didn’t feel like work,” Miles said. And with his love of travel, becoming a historian of international relations seemed like a natural choice. A native of Canada, Miles earned his PhD in history from the University of Texas in Austin and a master’s degree, also in history, from the London School of Economics and Political Science.