Policy - for People

 December 4, 2023

Why does public policy matter? It matters because people’s lives are at the heart of policy.

In 2023, we heard from many voices of people fighting for better lives through policy, people who are “standing for something” to help others, as our founder and namesake Terry Sanford encouraged.  

We heard the voices of our fall distinguished speakers Jasmine Crowe-Houston, Mitch Landrieu and Cal Newport, who highlighted policy opportunities related to food waste, infrastructure and technology. After meeting one of the speakers in person, Irene Biju ’26 said: “What I will take away from Jasmine Crowe-Houston's conversation is the importance of empathy, for those helping you and for those you are helping. It is so easy to stand on the outside and think you know what is best for someone, but this is not change. Change is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Change is standing beside someone and working together towards a solution. Change is empathy.”

We heard from recent graduates like Joanne Kim PPS’22, who wrote the Sanford Tech Policy Data Broker Research report about the dangers of individuals' sensitive health information being shared by data brokers. The report has been a catalyst for a congressional hearing, inspired legislation in Massachusetts, and was cited in a recent White House roundtable on data privacy.

Joanne said there are two important research questions posed by her Sanford mentor David Hoffman that stay with her: “He always asked us: Why is this work important? Who is this work serving? I've carried those two questions with me in every project I've done since.”

Our faculty, staff, students and graduates value empathy, impact and service to others. This is at the heart of policy and our Sanford mission. We listen, we act, we analyze – keeping people at the center of our work.

In 2024, Duke celebrates the 100th anniversary – and the next 100 years. Sanford will celebrate our part in Duke’s past, present and future. We will honor voices from our history, including the creation of the nation’s first interdisciplinary public policy program. We will celebrate the people who are shaping our school in this moment. And we will seek to connect with and recruit next-generation changemakers to join us.

Moving ahead, our resolve is stronger than ever to deliver on our mission in a time where policy is needed more than ever. We will only succeed by keeping people front and center in policy decisions. Join us in 2024 to learn more about the Sanford community and initiatives to shape the future of policy. Your voice matters to us, and we thank you for your support in 2023. Happy holiday season.


Judith Kelley
Dean and ITT/Terry Sanford Professor of Public Policy and Political Science


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