Sanford School faculty, students and alumni engage with North Carolina through research, events, podcasts, masters’ students consulting and research projects, internships and classroom projects at the statewide and local level. Take a look at some of our favorite engagement projects.
Sample Student Projects in Durham
Citizen Experience Lab (CX-LAB)
Sanford faculty members Tom Allin and Blythe Meyer co-teach Sanford’s Human Centered Design course, the “Citizen Experience Lab.” As a part of the course, Sanford MPP students helped GoDurham improve the customer experience of Durham public transportation. The students worked with customers and employees to test ways to improve the customer experience. The students shared results and recommendations with GoDurham in a HCD storybook that detailed all of the students’ work from the 14-week process.
Durham Partners for Youth Opportunity Project
Students in Lalita Kaligotla's PPS270 Lead the Way Durham course are working on a collaborative project between the organizations Step Up Durham and Durham Partners for Youth Opportunity on ways to better raise funds for the organization's projects. They are making a video about a family who went through some financial training the organizations provided. Watch video>>
Durham Bull Moon initiative
Students in Lalita Kaligotla's PPS270 Lead the Way Durham course are doing outreach and program evaluation work in collaboration with Durham's Bull Moon Rising project/community event. It's being run by the City's Public Arts Program in the General Services office. Read more here.
Sample Initiatives and Research Projects
The Sanford School has many programs and centers housed within the school that carry out many initiatives and research projects focused on particular policy issues.
Home Buying and Inequality
Durham, NC has a legacy of inequality. Many neighborhoods had "covenants" requiring that excluded non-whites from buying homes. Professor Bob Korstad has been looking into the issue, and his research has been turned into a civic education initiative, Bull City 150: Reckoning with Durham's Past to Build a More Equitable Future. The project culminated in 2019, Durham's 150th birthday.
DURHAM COVID-19 TASKFORCE
The summer of 2020, as Durham City government grappled with the pandemic, Sanford alum Ryan Smith MPP’12, recruited Sanford students and recent graduates to be the research arm of the Durham Recover and Renewal Task Force.
The task force advised Mayor Steve Schewel and County Commission Chair Wendy Jacobs on how to safely and successfully re-open Durham and address longstanding problems aggravated by the pandemic.
Statewide Engagement Examples
In Policy Lab, students learn to write a succinct policy memo under the guidance of faculty member Deondra Rose – often for lawmakers in North Carolina. Rose is co-director of the North Carolina Chapter of the Scholars Strategy Network. Through Policy Lab, students gain real-world experience, while North Carolina policymakers receive research, ideas and recommendations at no cost to taxpayers. Last year, students wrote memos for N.C. Sen. Jay Chaudhuri (ways to boost teacher retention rates), Greensboro City Council member Tammi Thurm (how to implement a cost-effective and robust “good repair” ordinance) and N.C. Rep. Gale Adcock, among others. More info.
NC Education Data Center
The North Carolina Education Research Data Center (NC ERDC) at the Center for Child and Family Policy was created in 2000 through a partnership with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to store and manage data on the state’s public schools, students, and teachers. Data can be accessed by researchers and government agencies who meet the established guidelines. Hundreds of dissertations, academic papers, and policy briefs have emerged based on data from North Carolina, benefiting the state and other states across the country.
Governor's Commission on Education
Helen "Sunny" Ladd, professor of public policy and economics, was appointed by Gov. Cooper to a commission to ensure compliance with the NC Supreme Court ruling in the Leandro case to provide equal opportunity to a sound basic education.
Master's students' MPP projects
Many of Sanford's MPP students conduct research for NC agencies or nonprofits for their master's projects. Since 2011 they have been archived digitally by Duke libraries. There are 211 projects here, many of them done for NC clients.
White Bias and Food Systems
Alison Conrad is working with the Duke World Food Policy Center on her Masters Project, researching white dominant narratives and white supremacy in food access policy and food movements. Research will involve a review of prominent food movements, interviews with food access policy organization leaders, and case studies of select organizations and programs. Here is a podcast with Ali talking about the 8 ways white bias can misdirect food systems work.
Recent Alumni in Durham
Meril Pothen, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC
John-Paul Smith, NC Education Corps/American Ripples
Featuring NC Farmers
The World Food Policy Center created a series of podcasts in partnership with the Farm Bureau to increase awareness of North Carolina farming families.
In the Governor’s Office
In November 2019, Gov. Cooper appointed to the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency Board of Directors Adam Abram of Chapel Hill as a member with expertise in public housing policy and chair. Abram is the founder, chairman and CEO of James River Group, LTD, which owns a group of insurance companies. He is the chairman emeritus of the board of visitors of Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy. Gov. Cooper also appointed to the North Carolina Humanities Council Sanford alumnus Christopher Lam of Charlotte as a member at-large. Lam is a partner at Bradley Law Firm and is the managing partner of the Charlotte office and a former Sanford Board of Visitors member.
NC School Research Partnership
The Duke University School Research Partnership was established with support from the Office of the Provost and the Center for Child and Family Policy in 2006. The Partnership links Duke students and faculty members with local schools and school districts that request strategic research that can have an immediate impact on their policies. Read more about the partnership.
NC Resilience & Learning
The North Carolina Resilience and Learning Project, led by the Center for Child and Family Policy's Katie Rosanbalm, works with high poverty schools across the state to ensure academic success and improve social and emotional well-being of children impacted by trauma. To date, Rosanbalm and her team have supported implementation of a trauma-sensitive educational framework in 24 schools across 14 counties in North Carolina.
There were 92 Sanford students, both undergraduate and graduate, that had internships in Durham in 2019-2020. There are some from the summer of 2020.
- Brian Lim – Policy Fellow, Brighthive
- Indraneel Dharwardkar – Intern, City of Durham
- Elizabeth Jones – Intern, Durham Public Schools Foundation
- Matt Landers – Intern, Families Moving Forward
- Jessica Au – Intern, Girls on the Run
- Jeremy Carballo Pineda – Intern, IndyWeek
Local Area Engagement
Area high school engages with ethics events
Matt Cone, teacher of social studies class from Carrboro High School, has brought students to many events. Cone often coordinates small group meetings with the speakers, like Nobel Peace Prize-winner Nadia Murad.