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The Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy is 10 years old!


Happy Birthday, Sanford.

“Wait … Didn’t public policy get started at Duke University in 1971?”

Yes. And in 2022, we plan to celebrate the 50th anniversary of public policy at Duke.

“So … 10 years old … what’s that about?”

Sanford became a school on July 1, 2009, so we're marking the 10th anniversary as a school. Before, Sanford was organized as an interdisciplinary institute.

Becoming a school raised Sanford’s profile and helped spark exciting changes and growth. To celebrate, we’re sharing a series of stories about the school. Here’s story Number 2.

1. Explaining your degree to friends and family

Man Smiling

“When I tell people that I'm studying public policy, more often than not, they have no idea what that means. To me, public policy means seeing how different elements – political institutions, economics, ethics – intersect in ways that can have meaningful impacts on real people’s lives. One thing I love about the major is how our conversations about policy are always rooted in reality, not the hypothetical." – Dalia Dichter PPS ‘21

2. Election parties

Woman Smiling

“I have always enjoyed election night watch parties at Sanford. The sense of community between students and professors who share a deep interest in the election is strong. I love being able to follow the results live and talk about their potential implications for policy and government among other students and professors.” – Claire Gibbs PPS ’2

3. The Internship

Woman and man smiling

"The internship epitomizes what I am most grateful for as a Sanford student -- learning applicable skills and using them to be part of the change we want to see in the world. I interned in the Washington, D.C., office of Congressman Brad Schneider. I had the opportunity to see the policymaking process firsthand and engage with members of Congress, Congressional staff, lobbyists and constituents. I wrote memos to legislative staff on hearings, briefings, and meetings that covered diverse issues from foreign affairs to pharmaceutical drug prices. … .” -- Maddy Flamm PPS ’20


Hand writing

“Memo writing is ... so different from traditional academic writing... I've learned to convey my ideas more concisely, and this has been incredibly useful for internships and extracurricular activities on campus. I’ve developed confidence in my ability to write memos effectively, and I'm excited to use this important skill after I graduate to contribute to real policy debates!” -- Kate Evans PPS ’21

5. Gratitude for Being Humbled


 “Writing an undergraduate thesis has been both a fascinating and humbling experience. As someone with no prior background in quantitative analysis of social science, I have had my eyes opened to a whole different world of academia and policy development. I am excited to see the finished project of this year long pursuit, and I’m grateful for the faculty support I’ve received throughout the process!” – Madison Cullinan PPS ’20

6. Work, Sleep; It's all "Pod-sible"

Students learning

“The pods in the Sanford building are a really great place to hang out. It’s easy to collaborate for teamwork, do schoolwork, chat with friends, or eat lunch. Life and work is all mixed together here, which I think betters the overall community. As an MPP student, I love coming here to relax or to look for inspiration.” – Zhuma Jin MPP ’21

7. The Whole Spectrum

Man Smiling

"I have heard speakers including Madeleine Albright, Nikki Haley and Tom Perez, and therefore have heard speakers defend their policy positions from both liberal and conservative positions. I have been so impressed with the way in which Sanford students and faculty treat guest speakers with respect and craft thoughtful questions to ask each speaker. These events speak volumes about the Sanford School; how we strive to create an open-minded and tolerant environment… Gillian Samos PPS ’20

8. Econ, Spreadshseets and Stats, Oh My!

Student studying

“Learning statistics along with economics has played a tremendous role in helping me understand public policy. Without these requirements, I wouldn’t have been able to build and reflect on past histories, current policies, and future goals both in my classes and my internships, such as with RTI International.” -- Nima Mohammadi PPS'20

9. Group Work on a Deadline


"I'm not that nervous because I know I have a strong team. We are all go-getters, we all want to get it done. ... It's probably going to be an all-nighter!" - Deandrea Newsome MPP'20, commenting on the 48-Hour Memo exercise

10. Shades of Gray

man teaching

“The global health ethics course taught me how to think about basic ethical questions surrounding health care in the contexts of different cultures. I learned that ethics is not objective ... We have to use ethical frameworks when making public policy to minimize inequitable impacts and outcomes.” – Alicia Sun PPS’20