We aspire to be a great school of public policy for the 21st Century and to be recognized as a leader in our field.

Our Mission

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.

Shared Values

In 2019, faculty and staff of the Sanford School met to discuss the shared values that define our community. These values (in alphabetical order) guide the Sanford School every day.


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.

DIVERSITY, Equity & Inclusion

We have a vibrant and diverse community of scholars, teachers, administrators and students. We draw strength from a variety of disciplines, perspectives and personal backgrounds. We pride ourselves on the richness of our community. We recognize that to produce research that matters and to empower and inspire future leaders, we must embrace diversity. Indeed, it is the source of our strength. Learn more about our Committee on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.


Our distinguished faculty includes 5 members of National Academies, 19 who hold distinguished chairs, and accomplished professionals who hold the role of "professors of the practice."

Our teaching is of the highest caliber. We equip future and current policy leaders with the skills, knowledge and experiences that empower and inspire them to make a positive difference in the world.


Our goal is to always conduct ourselves in a moral, fair and decent manner. Whether we are supervising research or joining in a classroom conversation, we believe who we are, and how we act, matters. We hold ourselves up to the very highest ideals. We strive to be truthful – to ourselves, and others, even when it’s difficult. We aim to be honorable, and trustworthy.


When visitors enter the Sanford building, they often see small groups of students and faculty deep in conversation. It’s this kind of respect, for each other as people and as scholars, that matters to us. We respect ourselves and others. We value each member of our community, and care about their feelings and wellbeing. We accept each other wholly.


We strive to make a difference. Students and faculty conduct research and volunteer in our community. One professor is now serving as our mayor! We are deeply engaged with state, national and international communities, too, including public policy makers in governments, international organizations, nonprofits, media organizations and the private sector. We want our engagement to 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.

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Duke's Values in Action

Duke University is built upon our history and values.  Our shared values—respect, trust, inclusion, discovery and excellence—are more than aspirations.  They are the beliefs and behaviors that we expect of ourselves and our colleagues. 

More about Duke University's Values