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Innovation News

Sanford is a place where innovation happens. A sense of innovation permeates the school; it’s an outlook we prize and encourage. We have an Impact & Innovation fund that grants startup capital to people (students, faculty or staff) with promising ideas. We’ve got an entire center devoted to policy, leadership, innovation and service. We offer a year-long class, taught by behavioral economist Dan Ariely, on innovation in government. There’s even an interdisciplinary student group focused solely on social innovation.


Student Research Reveals Way to Increase On-Time Tax Payments

Tyler Gamble smiling

For his masters project, Tyler Gamble ran an experiment with Guilford County, N.C. to find out if small changes to a single letter could get more people to pay their taxes on time. He used principles from behavioral economics in his project and the outcome surprised even him.


OSPRI To Offer Course in Open Governance Innovation

OSPRI course

Emerging open innovation strategies have organizations from private companies to government agencies reaching beyond their borders to develop new ideas and find creative solutions to some of society’s most pressing problems. The governance of open data is a key factor to the success of these strategies.


What I Learned From Sanford’s Innovative Course on Innovation

student sorting stickies

This year, for the first time, Sanford offered a course in Human Centered Design, which is both innovative as a course and teaches the tools of innovation to rethink the policy process. HCD principles are well known in the tech sphere. For example, designers watch people struggle with and then learn how to use a prototype smartphone. Watching people engage with the prototype for the first time gives designers key insights about how to improve the prototype for maximum usability. Public policy should benefit from the same philosophy.


Duke Team Competes for Prestigious Hult Prize

Hult team reviewing documents

A group of Duke students has developed an app that would help connect people in Mumbai India's slums with jobs that already exist. (Currently people in the slums pay middlemen for jobs, which are often too far away.) The idea is gaining traction. The students have made it to the global top 10 in the prestigious Hult Prize competition, beating out approximately 25,000 others.


Diverse Group Gathers at Duke for First NC Leadership Forum

NC Leadership Forum at Duke

Thirty-four civic, business and political leaders from across North Carolina gathered last week at the inaugural North Carolina Leadership Forum (NCLF), a new initiative aimed at bridging partisan and ideological divides in North Carolina.


Sanford Offers Cutting-Edge 'Human Centered Design' Course

student conducts interview with bus rider

Tyler Gamble is working toward his master's degree in public policy. In early January, he and some classmates spent a morning talking with a woman who lives in subsidized housing in Durham, N.C. "One of the things that struck me is it's a lot of work to be really poor," Gamble said. "The kind of bureaucratic procedures and administrative hurdles she faced to get benefits are significant. For someone who lives in abject poverty, it's difficult to plan for the long-term in ways we can't understand."


Sanford Launches Ambitious New Podcast

Ways & Means episode 1 illustration

A small team at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy recently launched the Ways & Means podcast iTunes and Stitcher. It’s a show for people curious about the best ideas for improving our society.


Introducing Polis: Center for Politics

Photo of U.S. Capitol Building

Politics.  An essential part of life or a dirty word? It depends on whom you ask.


EMBARK: New Program Helps Undergrads Launch Careers in Policy, Nonprofits & Advocacy

“When I come to the end of the road, will it matter to me more that I took a lucrative job out of college because it was the expected path, or did I pursue that dream to help start a secondary school …” wrote Jay Sullivan PPS’16. Sanford Career Services Office has a program designed to help students like him who want to pursue a less “expected path."


Rachael Chong MPP'09 is Transforming Volunteering

Rachael Chong

Rachael Chong MPP'09 was working in investment banking and looking for ways to give back to the community.  She found herself hauling lumber in a schoolyard in the Bronx. It was good work, but it wasn’t work she was good at doing. In fact, she found it surprisingly hard to find volunteer opportunities that used her professional skills. So, she's created technology she hopes will transform philanthropy.


Sanford Pilots Local Government Innovation Program

Peter Ubel addresses packed crowd

The timing could not have been better. On September 15, President Obama issued an executive order: use behavioral science insights to better serve the American people. Two days later, 70 mayors, city managers and others from 30 local governments in North Carolina gathered at a Sanford School workshop to learn about that very thing. What is behavioral science, and how can it be used to spur innovation at the local level?