Named for David M. Rubenstein, a Duke alumnus, benefactor, and former chair of Duke’s Board of Trustees, this endowed lecture series brings high-profile thought leaders and policy makers to campus each year.

Nicholas Kristof

50th Anniversary Event of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy: Nicholas Kristof in Conversation with Frank Bruni  (with support from the Rubenstein Lectures Series) February 5, 2024

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof spoke with Duke Sanford professor Frank Bruni about some of the most pressing issues facing the United States today, how to deal with them, and what the stakes of the 2024 presidential election are. 

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Maria Ressa

Technology, Humanity, and Democracy--The State of Journalism  February 8, 2024

 Nobel Peace Prize winner and Filipino and American journalist, Maria Ressa, spoke to a packed house about her thoughts on the intersection of fake news, freedom of expression, human rights, and where journalism is heading today. The talk was moderated by professor Stephen Buckley.

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Mitch Landrieu

Yes We Can Do Big Things: Lessons Learned from Rebuilding America  September 7, 2023

Mitch Landrieu, Senior Advisor to President Biden, spoke about lessons learned from rebuilding New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and how he is applying those insights in his current role at the federal level. Landrieu is in charge of implementing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law -- a once-in-a-generation, $1.2 trillion opportunity to invest in our roads, bridges, airports, high-speed internet, a clean energy economy, and more.

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Alice Hill

Powering A Resilient Future  November 7, 2022

Alice Hill is the David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and Environment at the Council on Foreign Relations. She previously served as Special Assistant to President Barack Obama and Senior Director for Resilience Policy on the National Security Council staff where she led the development of national policy, including executive orders related to natural disasters, national security, and climate change. Her lecture kicked off Energy Week at Duke – and coincided with the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27) in Egypt.



michael sorrell, judy woodruff, and David gergen

The Future of Public Service and Our Democracy: What are the Needs of Our Nation and Our World?  April 14, 2022

A panel of experienced leaders took to the stage in Penn Pavilion to address large questions about political division in the country and the value of public service for our democracy.  Michael Sorrell MPP’90/JD’94, president of Paul Quinn College; PBS journalist Judy Woodruff T’68; and David Gergen, former presidential adviser, gave the David M. Rubenstein Distinguished Lecture, as one of the final events marking 50 years of public policy at Duke.




What the World Needs Now: Global Policy Leaders for the Future October 15, 2021

Jim Yong Kim, M.D., Ph.D., is Vice Chairman and Partner at Global Infrastructure Partners, a fund that invests in infrastructure projects across several sectors around the world. From July 2012 to February 2019, Kim served as the 12th President of the World Bank Group. A physician and anthropologist, Kim’s career has revolved around health, education, and improving the lives of the poor. Before joining the World Bank Group, he served as the President of Dartmouth College and held professorships at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. From 2003 to 2005, Kim served as Director of the World Health Organization’s HIV/AIDS department. In 1987, Kim co-founded Partners In Health, a non-profit medical organization that now works in poor communities on four continents.


Building Capacity is the Path to Global Health Equity February 2020

If the global health community has a rock star, it’s Paul Farmer. A physician and medical anthropologist who is internationally known for his work with people living in poverty, Farmer gave the David Rubenstein lecture in Page Auditorium in conversation with Sanford Associate Professor Manoj Mohanan on Wednesday.  A Duke alumnus, Farmer joked that he used to come to Page for rock concerts, and that he and John Bolton would perform a duet later. Farmer flew in from Rwanda, where he has been involved in the establishment of the University of Global Health Equity, which opened last year.

Read more about Paul Farmer's LectureWatch an Overview



Former Secretary of State Stresses Threats to Democracy, Role of Citizens  February 2019

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was both humorous and somber Thursday during a dialogue with Judith Kelley, dean of the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy, about threats to democracy, foreign policy and the responsibilities of citizenship.  Describing herself as having attended college “sometime between the invention of the iPad and the discovery of fire,” Albright, 81, delivered the David M. Rubenstein Lecture to a full house in Page Auditorium. She served as secretary of state during the Clinton administration, and was the first woman to serve in that role.

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Former Director of National Intelligence Warns About World Threats March 2018

James Clapper spoke at the Sanford School of Public Policy about the cyber security challenges facing the United States.  Clapper served as director of national intelligence under President Obama between 2010 and 2017, at the Defense Intelligence Agency under President George H.W. Bush, and as director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency in President George W. Bush’s administration.  Clapper’s lecture, moderated by Peter Feaver, professor of political science and public policy, was the inaugural lecture of the David M. Rubenstein Distinguished Lecture series. 

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