Sanford Faculty Receive Funding for Two New Undergraduate Projects

By Matt LoJacono // January 27, 2023

Two exciting new Sanford undergraduate initiatives recently received funding from Duke’s Undergraduate Program Enhancement Fund (UPEF). This fund is supported by Duke’s office of the provost and is focused on innovative proposals that help enhance experiential learning for Duke undergraduates.

Person with a big smile and bright orange dress, aviator-style glasses
Professor Alexandra-Emmanuelle Zagbayou

Professor Alexandra-Emmanuelle Zagbayou will receive $25,000 for her “Lead the Way, Durham” course that will focus on the goal of creating a bridge between the University and the Durham community through proximity, shared learning, and relationship building.  

Professor Zagbayou’s project will revamp two previous courses that had historical and community engagement elements into a new course that will expose Duke students to Durham community practitioners who are leaders in housing, education, criminal justice reform, food systems, and environmental justice.  These leaders will co-design and co-teach modules in “communities of practice,” with field trips, group projects, communal dinners, reflective conversations, and other activities designed to promote research, community engagement, and learning from the lived experience of local experts.” 

Dean Judith Kelley shared enthusiasm for the award. "Professor Zagbayou’s class will be a completely new and innovative approach to teaching, one that merges the classroom with the community and learning with leading. The class is so well aligned with Duke’s greater efforts to engage Durham, and Zagbayou, with her own immersive experience in Durham, is just the right person to lead it. I can’t wait to see where the class goes in the future. The students who take this class will be in for a real treat," said Kelley. 

Professors Deondra Rose and Manoj Mohanan will receive $95,000 in funding from Duke to pursue an immersive learning experience that partners with Duke in DC as students will engage directly with U.S. policymakers.

Deondra Rose
Professor Deondra Rose

Professors Rose and Mohanan’s experiential learning project will embed immersive group travel experiences across several core public policy courses that enable students to have first-hand exposure to policymakers, organizations in which our public policy alumni work, and think tanks and nonprofits who are on the front lines of critical policy debates about climate change, racial equity, global affairs, and democratic governance. 

Man, glasses, smiling
Professor Manoj Mohanan

The shared travel experiences will enable students to connect with each other across the public policy program, engage in curricular and co-curricular programming, and directly observe the implications of market failures and regulatory challenges on local policy field trips.

Dean Kelley expressed her enthusiasm for this new student initiative as well. "I’m so excited about this experience that Professors Rose and Mohanan are creating for our students. This trip will be an opportunity to see the home of our national policy firsthand, to bond with other students interested in policy, and to meet real people doing real policy. I think this will be the kind of trip students will look back on as a highlight of their Duke experience and, I hope, one that inspires their lives after it. We are so grateful to the provost's office for supporting this effort."