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.”
“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. A native of Canada, Miles earned his PhD in history from the University of Texas in Austin and a master’s degree, also in history, from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
“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.”
Using data to rate countries doesn’t just help us understand their behavior, it actually changes it. For Judith Kelley, the acronym GPA means more than “grade point average,” the term most familiar to her students. She also thinks of “global performance assessments” — public measures of performance that nations, nongovernmental organizations and private entities use to attract attention, shape debate, and—they hope—change behavior. Kelley studies how international actors influence domestic politics. “What can we do to get countries to stop mistreating people?” she asks.
"When I was a child, I would spend hours with my grandmother looking at her photo albums from traveling all over Europe, Africa, South America, and Asia. She showed me pictures of wildlife from the Galapagos, art from France and Italy, and engineering projects in China. From her kitchen table on the South Side of Chicago, my grandmother opened my eyes to the broader world and sparked a lifelong interest in reaching out beyond our borders. Following my first year at Sanford, I have had the great privilege of interning at the World Trade Organization in Switzerland. This summer, I witnessed and became a part of the international efforts to face down the growing challenges of an increasingly interconnected world. I never could have imagined the trajectory from my grandmother's kitchen table to the dais of the WTO, but I know I have her to thank for instilling in me a concern for others and an interest in international affairs. I don't know what my child self would think about who I have become or what I do today, but I know she would be elated to find herself following in her grandmother's footsteps and stepping out to face challenges beyond our shores." -Kate Lohmeyer, MPP/MBA '19
"I love a good challenge. To me, life without challenges is mundane. Geneva is a challenge. I spend my days navigating a new environment and culture. My internship pushes me to learn about a field in which I have no prior experience, which is emergency operation. I struggled initially to learn the frameworks and language that forms the foundation of emergency operation. In honesty, I have yet to make a dent in this pool of knowledge. It is a constant battle. Frustration is a part of my daily life here, as I get irritated at myself for making mistakes and not being sharper. However, within that frustration, I find my happiest moments in Geneva. Wait a moment, frustration and happy? How does that work? Well, simply put, I feel myself growing. I cannot put it into words, but I sense myself changing. Changes that are good. It is the mysterious feeling of change and growth that makes me happy." - Maithy Tranphung, MPP '18
"The ethics class I took for the Public Policy requirements - we talked a lot about health outcomes and inequalities and Scrap Exchange tackles that. They try to engage low-income neighborhoods and the community around here. Seeing that has helped me to apply the ethics that I have learned. I have taken [several] philosophy courses and there is a lot that I learned about the importance of community, the rights of a community, how it helps individuals to grow. Scrap Exchange is really big on trying to foster that sense of community, and help try to make itself part of Durham."