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Duke Innovates Together to Rewrite the Rules

With the Sanford School of Public Policy, the Polarization Lab, the Polis Innovation Accelerator, the Policy Lab, Hart’s Democracy Lab, and the CX Lab, Duke has strong infrastructure to support students and faculty working together to effect policy change.

These centers and programs support widespread efforts at Duke to work alongside local and national partners to tackle systemic challenges in new ways and evolve policy based on research. Here are some stories that show how Duke innovators are shaping policy:

The Democracy Lab at Hart is a work in progress that has grown from the energy and insights of students, faculty, and their community partners as they have collaborated in tackling systemic collective action challenges. Open to all Duke students, the Democracy lab allows Duke students to combine the study of history with democracy work and research with community partners within and across several classes. 

Durham’s innovation and performance manager, Ryan Smith MPP ’14, recruited students and recent alums from Duke, NCCU, and UNC to serve as research assistants to support policy decisions by the Durham Recovery and Renewal Task Force in addressing issues including housing, food security, and COVID testing and safety.

Duke Sanford students collaborate on a project

In a “citizen experience lab,” policy students used human-centered design to research and make recommendations for improvement to the GoDurham transportation customer experience.


Students at Duke and American University teamed up with media collaborative Future Tense to create a tracker for the many bills related to revising Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act—which says websites aren’t legally liable for content hosted on their platforms—to support reporters and others in understanding how legislation could shape the internet. 

The Duke Clinical Research Institute’s ABC Science Collaborative, which pairs scientists and physicians with school and community leaders, supported NC legislators in safely reopening schools following the pandemic.

Matt Perault, Director of the Center on Science & Technology Policy, worked with students to develop a chapter in a report on digital equity and inclusion commissioned by the National Urban League. The report envisions how to ensure availability, adoption, and access of digital resources—a goal that will require action and collaboration across multiple institutions, public and private, and across all levels of jurisdiction. 


Learn how Duke innovates together…

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