Across the country, newspapers are evolving. As print subscriptions and advertising revenue fall, they are increasingly becoming digital media organizations. As executive editor for the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer John Drescher MPP’88 is leading his newsroom’s digital transition.
“I’m interested in the intersectionality of religion and policy, and how policy informs religious freedom. Especially in today's climate, I think it’s particularly important with our current presidency, Islamophobia, and things like that. I think evaluating the ways in which your religious freedoms affect other people is important. I personally define religious freedom as [allowing] for all people to be able to practice what they want without fear of repercussions or for their safety, like when people don’t want to admit their religious identity because of potential dangers, like with Islamophobia. Building on that, the right to exclude is very narrow. I think educating yourself is huge, because you don’t want that burden to fall on someone when it’s already hard to speak up in the first place, and learning more about other people’s beliefs will ultimately go back to that - to affecting our policies.
Beth Gifford takes a data-driven approach to studying education and criminal justice policies affecting children and their families. She joined the Sanford School in July as assistant research professor of public policy, after being part of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy (CCFP) since 2005.
“I’m currently working on my readings for ethics. It’s for the MPP class. It’s really cool. Jay Pearson is the professor and he’s really great. I think he really contextualizes a lot of issues and also looks into the intersectionality of those issues. So things aren’t just isolated problems, they’re all interconnected. To be honest, I had never really considered public policy as something I wanted to pursue in graduate school. I was a history major in undergrad, I worked for 2 years in a AmeriCorps program in St. Louis city and I worked at a public high school in education and it kind of made me realize that a lot of the issues I was seeing with my students didn’t solely stem from problems within the education system but other things too such as their health, home life, and stress levels, and that was why they were having trouble. I looked into public policy, and I realized that I wanted to make more of a concrete change within the system in order to improve the lives of others.
Stefanie Feldman PPS’10 has seen America’s gun control debate play out before. Like many people, she remembers watching the news reports about the murders at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. But in the wake of the killings, Feldman, at the time a policy advisor to Vice President Joe Biden at the White House, would get an opportunity most American didn’t—she was part of the team leading the development of policies President Obama and Vice President Biden would issue in order to address gun violence and mental health.
“Well initially, taking public policy 155 (Introduction to Public Policy), I was not very sure about my decision to go through the public policy track. However, taking more electives and core courses, I see that there’s much more to public policy than the core courses. It’s a very interdisciplinary major which features research, business implementation, micro and macroeconomics, and even facets of cultural anthropology. So it’s just a very diverse major that’s for so many people.”
By Jackie Ogburn
“I went into the family business,” says Assistant Professor Simon Miles, a historian who researches U.S.-Soviet relations during and after the Cold War.
When he was undergraduate, “history didn’t feel like work,” Miles said. And with his love of travel, becoming a historian of international relations seemed like a natural choice.
“I come from India. I’m an officer of commute in Indian government service. And I have been dealing with taxes for the past 18 years. I was just looking for an opportunity where I can get an overall global perspective and exposure to what I have been doing all these years. So public policy will give me a holistic perspective of things. Essentially I’m looking to learn about taxation policies in an international perspective – how other countries go about it, the comparison. I will also be learning about the U.S. federal taxation law. So everything will give me a very broad perspective and it will add to my experience and work. I think it’s going to be a very wonderful input and look forward to my stay of 1 year here. I look forward to a lot of takeaways from here.”
"'Live an upright life, and serve with all your heart.' On the day of my high school graduation, my father wrote this sentence in traditional Chinese calligraphy and gave it to me as a gift. These words have since become a standard that I try to live up to. As the son of a senior Chinese government official living in Beijing, I had a privileged and sheltered childhood compared to most of my peers. My father, however, grew up in rural China during a much harder time. [...] I did not have to go through anything like that. I had access to everything I needed, simply because I was born into an affluent family. However, my father made sure I understood that my privilege comes with a responsibility to help those less fortunate. I am privileged because I can choose what I want to do with my life. Many people never had the luxury of choice. I chose public policy so I can pursue a career that might help giving people the chance they deserve."
"I have been in Eastern North Carolina for three years where I taught. I’m focusing my work on social policy including but not limited to education and poverty. As an educator in Eastern North Carolina I very quickly realized that my ability to impact a lot of the things that were happening in the community that I was working in were very limited as a teacher. I felt like a lot of the policies I was forced to execute, I had little power to leverage to change that even thought I saw the impacts they were having on children, on the school, and in communities. I felt getting a Master’s in Public Policy would allow me the opportunity to really get a seat at the table of those policies that were impacting those communities."
A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. Trying to find an oncologist to provide a second opinion is difficult in many locations due to wait times or geographic distance, making decisions about treatment even harder for patients. Hua Wang PPS’03 is a cofounder and CEO of SmartBridge, a startup based in Washington, D.C. that connects oncologists with cancer patients who want a second opinion or guidance. Several members of Wang’s family had been affected by cancer and she saw the idea as a way to help others.
About 1.2 billion people in the world do not have access to electricity—and another billion lack reliable access. At Duke, Sanford School of Public Policy student Aubrey Zhang MPP’18 has opportunities to contribute to efforts addressing this global challenge. “Energy access is an important issue that presents an interesting set of problems,” said Zhang. “It’s about addressing poverty. It’s also about engineering, and of course, the environment.”