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Our Values & Principles

In keeping with our namesake’s legacy, the Sanford School of Public Policy has outrageous ambitions.

We aspire to be a great school of public policy for the 21st Century and to be recognized in the region, in the nation, and throughout the world as a leader in our field. Our vision for what it means to be a great public policy school derives from our core values -- constants that continue to define who we are and what we strive to be -- and from our mission statement:

The Duke Sanford School of Public Policy’s mission is to improve lives by researching the most pressing public policy issues and preparing students for lives of leadership, civic engagement and public service.


Research that matters

The Sanford School produces exemplary research that brings multiple disciplinary perspectives to bear on significant issues facing our local community, our nation, and the world. Our work is held to the highest standards of academic rigor and can be a model for policy-relevant, inter-disciplinary research that has a real and positive impact on the world.

Our distinguished faculty includes 4 members of National Academies, 17 who hold distinguished chairs, and accomplished professionals such as former senior civilian attorney for the U.S. Army Tom Taylor and former Washington Post managing editor Philip Bennett.

Teaching that empowers and inspires

Our teaching equips future and current policy leaders with the skills, knowledge and experiences that empower and inspire them to make a positive difference in the world. We aim to be a model for an innovative, engaging and policy-relevant teaching and learning environment. Our commitment to our students extends to creating outstanding learning experiences outside the classroom, providing excellent career and professional development services, and maintaining lifetime connections and opportunities for interaction with our alumni.

Deep engagement with the policy world

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  • Nikki Haley with Sanford School of Public Policy Students

    Connecting Research and Policy

    U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, delivered the Spring 2018 Terry Sanford Distinguished Lecture. Prior to the public talk, Haley met privately with a small group of students (above). Haley's visit to Duke was presented by the Sanford School of Public Policy and the Program in American Grand Strategy.

We strive to be deeply engaged with the community of public policy makers in governments, international organizations, nonprofits, media organizations and the private sector. Our engagement should be a two-way street, both an avenue for projecting our research into policy and practice and a way for policy makers and practitioners to inform our teaching and research.

Diversity and community

Our vibrant and diverse community of scholars, teachers, administrators and students shares a commitment to the mission of the Sanford School. It is the nature of public policy that we draw strength from our different disciplines, perspectives and personal backgrounds, and we pride ourselves on collaboration and a strong sense of community. Moreover, we live in a diverse world, and to produce great research that matters and to empower and inspire future leaders, we embrace diversity. Learn more about our diversity and inclusion goals.

Recently we wondered, what would our faculty look like without those who were born in another country? How about without those whose parents and grandparents were born in another country? Here's what we found: