Sources of Inspiration

 September 15, 2023

What is inspiring me this academic year? Without a doubt, it is the community of Sanford: our students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends. I am thrilled to announce six new faculty members joining our community in 2023-2024, adding to our strong expertise. In addition, our community includes an array of centers and programs with exciting updates including:

  • The Center for Child & Family Policy has secured 25 external grants to explore major themes of research.
  • The Duke Center for International Development welcomed new faculty, staff and 28 MIDP students this fall – and has a new website and annual report.
  • The DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy now offers an undergraduate minor, and the center is celebrating 50 years in 2024.
  • Our Hart Leadership Program has four experiential learning programs for students, detailed on its new website.
  • POLIS: the Center for Politics took 100 incoming Duke undergraduate students on a field trip to Washington, D.C., for a pre-orientation program called Project Citizen.
  • The World Food Policy Center has an array of research projects in the works so that all people have access to nutritious and affordable food for a sustainable and resilient food system, with a podcast highlighting many voices in food.
  • Duke in DC celebrated its 10th anniversary.

These are a few of the many recent highlights from around the school’s centers and programs. Much more is happening in  Sanford in our key focus areas - including technology policy, national security and health policy.

We know our work is vitally relevant to the challenges facing our nation. A recent memo on U.S. Multi-Agency Research and Development Priorities for the FY 2025 Budget flagged the importance of science and technology including its impact on democracy, national security, climate, health and inequities. This memo mirrors the key themes of our everyday work. Our mission is powerfully aligned with societal needs. Sanford continues to produce knowledge and leadership to address the grand challenges of our time.

During a recent event on the Sanford lawn, I talked with undergraduates about their experience in our major. They started competing about who had taken the most transformative class at Sanford, each claiming the excellence of a different professor. Their message was clear: Sanford is changing their lives and setting our students on a new course! The research and teaching at Sanford truly is powerful.

We are in a strong position heading into this academic year – from our excellent academic programs to our fundraising support, research funding and faculty awards. Our alums and friends worldwide clearly believe in our mission, and we are so thankful for this support.

Sending best wishes this academic year.


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


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