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'Stand For' Signature Virtual Speaker Series

September 8, 2020

During the 2020-2021 school year, the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy is pleased to present a signature virtual (online) speaker series to explore important policy conversations to move forward democracy, justice, equity, community, strategy and human rights. The series is produced and presented honor of our school’s founder Terry Sanford.   

“I’ve said to students, if you get into politics, you ought to get in with the frame of mind that winning is not everything. And if standing for something defeats you, so be it. Stand for something.”  - Duke Sanford School founder Terry Sanford

Each talk in the “Stand For” series is created for a broad audience of Duke students, faculty, community members, alumni; also media, policymakers, prospective students and all interested in these topics from a policy lens.  You are welcome to join us!

Completed Events

Stand For Human Rights & Humanitarianism

man, smiling 


Focus:  human rights and humanitarianism


  • David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee and a former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom
  • Faculty experts: Gavin Yamey, Professor of the Practice of Global Health and Judith Kelley, Dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy and Professor of Public Policy and of Political Science

Cosponsor: Duke Sanford Center for International Development, Duke Global Health Initiative, and Sanford's Policy for the People

Watch the video


Stand for Equity 

On October 21, 2020 Professor Joel Fleishman welcomed Andrew W. Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander to his FIRG Seminar which was also part of the Sanford School’s ‘Stand For’ Series.

The conversation covered a decision by the Mellon Foundation, which is nation’s largest funder in art and culture, to switch focus and prioritize social justice in all of its grantmaking. Whereas it typically gives out roughly $300 million a year in grants to arts and humanities organizations, this year because of the economic losses created by the pandemic, it is planning to distribute $500 million. 

Watch the video | Read an overview  | Read a student perspective

Stand for Community 

On October 13, 2020, the Sanford School of Public Policy and Polis: Duke’s Center for Politics welcomed Asha Curran, co-founder and current CEO of GivingTuesday. Curran shared insights from her career as a pioneer in the global generosity movement.

The conversation explored the significance of charitable giving in the midst of a global pandemic and the way re-imagining philanthropy has made it possible to meet needs that often go unmet in the face of political challenges like partisan polarization and legislative gridlock.

Watch the video 



Stand for Democracy - Elections, Voting, and Politics

On October 2, 2020, Judith Kelley, Dean of the Sanford School and expert in international comparative politics, interviewed three faculty members about the upcoming elections and challenges facing democracy.

The panel featured Sanford professors Phil Napoli, Mac McCorkle, and Deondra Rose, and was co-sponsored by Polis: Duke Center for Politics and the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy. Phil Napoli and Judith Kelley discussed social media, disinformation, and challenging economics related to local journalism. Kelley talked with Mac McCorkle about the election in North Carolina and with Deondra Rose about structural inequality and marginalized communities and how this may affect voter turnout.

Watch the video | Read an overview

Stand for Democracy - Voting During a Pandemic, a Postal Crisis and Presidential Misinformation

On October 1, 2020 the Sanford School of Public Policy welcomed Jessica Huseman, ProPublica journalist and director of their Electionland Project for the first Stand For Democracy event.

The conversation, co-sponsored by the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy and Polis: Duke’s Center for Politics, was hosted by Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy and Director of the DeWitt Wallace Center, Bill Adair.

Electionland, a nationwide initiative of the nonprofit investigative journalism organization ProPublica, is a collaboration of 30 freelance journalists who are assigned to different regions in the country and deployed to cover stories that aim to interrupt everyday problems with voting in local elections for any number of reasons.

Watch the video | Read an overview


Stand for Justice

On September 21, 2020 Sanford hosted the “Stand for Justice” event in partnership with the Hart Leadership Program and the Wilson Center for Science and Justice. This was the first event within the “Stand for” series, which addresses the topics of justice, democracy, strategy, community, and equity.

Moderated by Duke Law professor Brandon Garrett, Sanford hosted Kassandra Frederique from the Drug Policy Alliance, Alec Karakatsanis from the Civil Rights Corps, and Bianca Tylek from Worth Rises, organizations that are doing challenging work in dismantling the prison industrial complex and serving people that have been systematically funneled into the criminal justice system.

Watch the video Read a student perspective


The Stand for Something Sanford Speaker Series is funded through a generous gift from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust Endowment Fund in honor of Terry Sanford.
  • Ways to reach out to ProPublica with any voting concerns.