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Student Organizations

Duke MPP students have developed a variety of student-led organizations to share specialized knowledge and talents with a like-minded community. These organizations also aim to cultivate professional contacts, engage in community service activities and gain real-world policymaking experience.

Sanford Board Leadership Initiative

Sanford Board Leadership Initiative (SBLI) places Duke MPP students as non-voting members on local nonprofit leadership boards for one calendar year. As this program is in high demand, a competitive application process determines which graduate students can participate each year.

This partnership offers nonprofits strategic support from graduate students with policy-specific knowledge and the opportunity for students to learn about nonprofit governance.

"Through SBLI, I've been serving on the board of Crayons2Calculators. It's been inspiring to see how a community can pull together to help combat a problem -- in this case, the lack of school supplies for many kids in Durham public schools. At Sanford, there are many ways you can contribute to the community here at Duke and beyond the campus."—Brianna Van Stekelenburg MPP'15

Recent organizations participating in the SBLI program include:

  • Achievement Academy of Durham
  • Crayons2Calculators
  • Duke University Hispanic and Latino Alumni Association (DUHLAA)
  • Durham Central Park
  • Durham Community Land Trustees
  • El Centro Hispano
  • Elna B. Spauling Conflict Resolution Center
  • Lillian's List
  • Meals on Wheels
  • North Carolinians Against Gun Violence
  • North Carolina AIDS Action Network
  • Southern Documentary Fund
  • Youth Empowerment Solutions! (YES!)

Social Entrepreneurship and Policy Initiative

SEPI's mission is to provide opportunities for and leverage the skills of our members through ventures, leadership, and education in social entrepreneurship and policy in four core areas:

  • Community
  • Career
  • Curriculum
  • Collaboration 

SEPI hosts or co-sponsors social entrepreneurship panel discussions, professional development opportunities and networking events.

MPP Student Social Committee

The MPP Social Committee coordinates MPP social gatherings, such as a student mentor/mentee networking event in September, a formal holiday party, international potluck dinners and a graduation party. The committee’s objective is to bring the MPP and MIDP students, faculty and staff together.

Bridging Communities

Bridging Communities strives to ensure a welcoming, inclusive community for diverse students and advance the interests of social justice at the Sanford School of Public Policy.  We aim to build stronger relationships within Sanford's professional programs, MPP, MIDP, Ph.D. and Duke's other professional schools.

Sanford MPP Student Council

The Sanford MPP Student Council seeks to address student questions and concerns about their experiences in the MPP Program.  It facilitates student involvement in Sanford School planning in partnership with the Director of Graduate Studies and the Director of MPP Student Services. The Council manages an annual student activities budget, through which all Sanford student organizations receive funding to sponsor events.

Academic Committee

The Academic Committee serves as a forum for student concerns regarding topics such as:

  • requirements for academic concentrations
  • course offerings and electives
  • core curriculum needs
  • Master’s Projects
  • faculty-student interaction and advising

Graduate Professional Student Council

The Graduate and Professional Student Council of Duke University (GPSC – pronounced “gypsy”) is the umbrella student government organization for Duke’s eight graduate and professional schools.

Sanford Pride

Sanford Pride aims to make the LGBT community more visible and active to help Sanford recruit top-notch students regardless of sexual orientation. It provides support, community and visibility to LGBT students and allies to create a supportive and inclusive environment.

Duke Interdisciplinary Social Innovators

Duke Interdisciplinary Social Innovators (DISI) is a graduate and professional student group that contributes its talents at the intersection of business principles, technology innovation and effective policy. DISI project teams help local, domestic, and international nonprofits, government organizations, and social businesses better achieve their missions. Learn more about DISI.

Sample project:

Graduate and Professional Women's Network

The Graduate and Professional Women’s Network has been providing Duke’s graduate and professional women students with personal and professional networking opportunities since 1994. The group’s goals include:

  • fostering networking opportunities across departments and schools;
  • sponsoring programs that will teach graduate and professional school women skills that will help them succeed in their careers;
  • providing a forum for discussion of campus and community issues;
  • and advocating on behalf of graduate and professional school students to the Duke administration.

Sanford Women in Policy

Sanford Women in Policy (SWP) provides a forum to discuss and address challenges and opportunities for women in the field of public policy. SWP also serves as a space to cultivate, empower, and promote unity and fellowship for those who identify as women and their allies. SWP hosts discussions with speakers, networking events, skills workshops, and participates in service within the Duke and Durham community. SWP invites all graduate students to join in its activities. Please contact Madhu Vulimiri or Martine Aurelien to request to join the listserv and/or the Sanford Women in Policy Facebook group.

Sanford Journal of Public Policy 

The Sanford Journal of Public Policy (SJPP) was created in 2009 as a forum for public policy students and professionals to contribute to the current policy discourse through insightful analysis and innovative solutions. Produced by graduate students at the Sanford School, the online journal is published twice a year. The SJPP solicits articles across the spectrum of public policy in a variety of formats including:

  • policy research and position papers
  • issue briefs
  • opinion pieces
  • reviews of recently published books
  • interviews with policy professionals.

The SJPP website is designed to be a place where public policy students and practitioners can stay connected to current policy discussions and express their own views on today’s policy challenges. The SJPP is recruiting staff to edit submissions, blog about current policy issues, update the website and more. 

Sanford Energy and Environment Club

SEEC represents students interested in environmental policy, energy policy, water and oceans policy, and agriculture and food policy. SEEC facilitates faculty discussions and career panels, promotes attendance at local and national conferences, and sponsors outdoor adventures and eco-outings.

Sanford Running Club

The Sanford Running Club provides an opportunity for members of the Sanford community to exercise together, to share healthy lifestyle choices, and to network with peers via running through weekly runs, workouts, and local races. Interested runners should join the Sanford Running Club Facebook page.

Sanford Latin American and Caribbean Group (Sanford LAC)

Our mission is to lead and support academic, career, outreach, cultural, and social efforts of the Sanford community focused on Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in order to strengthen collaboration and engagement between LAC and Sanford.

As part of our Networking and Career Outreach strategy, we want to bring closer together Sanford alumni, students, and professors interested in LAC in order to increase networking and collaboration opportunities.

We invite you to follow us on Twitter or Facebook. Group email: sanford-lac@duke.edu