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Student Hub

Welcome to the student hub! Here are a series of entry points into the programming and opportunities that are aimed specifically at Duke students. Graduate, undergraduate, and professional students from majors and degree programs across campus join our Polis community. We hope you will, too!





1. Like us, follow us, slide into our DMs


2. Subscribe to our newsletter. (Our readership gives a slight edge to the Summer Olympic games over the Winter games, though nearly half say you don’t have to choose)

Bulletin Board

3. Stop by our virtual bulletin board. Ever-changing, and all sorts of things get posted

Duke Votes

4. Check out Duke Votes for practical help with voting, and also for opportunities to be involved in democratic participation efforts on campus

Director’s Fellows

5. We hire students – undergraduate and graduate! Learn more about The Director’s Fellows program


6. Public Policy majors: consider applying for the Political Engagement Project (PEP) Fellowship in the fall of your junior year (a collaboration with the Hart Leadership Program)


7. PolicyLab is an innovative service-learning opportunity (“service through research”) and it’s not just for students enrolled in a participating course


8. Grab your calendar and visit our events page. We hope to see you at something soon!

9. Scroll on down to meet some Sanford Ph.D. students concentrating in Political Science

Sanford Ph.D. students concentrating in Political Science


Ajenai Clemmons

Studying public policy will help us answer the question of what a policy should look like. What are the components needed to achieve a particular goal? Political science helps us understand the constraints, hurdles, and pitfalls as human beings behave in ways that preserve their power and advantage. It can be tempting to just focus on a policy’s mechanics. But, if you ignore stakeholders creating a narrative to poison leaders or voters against your solution, or you underestimate those who have veto power, then all your work can easily get derailed. It’s important to take stakeholder power into consideration on the front end. Website

We are constantly in a relationship with government that we take for granted. Public policies don’t just provide goods and services; they also provide experiences and message that tell us how government sees us and what our place is in society. The constant back and forth between people and government is so much more complex that we could possibly imagine. Political science can help us understand that relationship and craft policies that benefit people not only in a material way, but also lift them up as citizens. Website


Marayna Martinez


Francisco Meneses

I analyze how children can increase their income beyond what would be predicted by their families’ status. In the Chilean case – my dissertation’s analysis – [this] was done by a subway expansion that increased educational opportunities. However, expanding educational opportunities in countries like the US can be done simply by allowing students to go to schools outside of their school district. Website

In my work, I map individuals’ journeys from childhood to career, in the hopes of making these pathways more equitable. I spend an eternity pouring over survey data and interview transcripts, trying to classify people who are so much more than rows in a dataframe or snippets of conversation. How we as researchers define our respondents is inherently political, inherently imperfect, yet this is the evidence behind “evidence-based” policy making. The best we can do is commit to learning and listening. Website


Sarah Nolan


Emily Rains

In my research, I try to show how local informal political institutions shape the way in which urban “slums” — neighborhoods lacking property rights and basic services — are able to access public goods. Variation in the local political context can explain why the same policy or program is delivered or experienced so unevenly across neighborhoods. My goal with this research is to provide evidence that can inform more equitable policy design and implementation. Website

The study of public policy is about finding good policy answers to difficult public questions, yet good policy ideas often face political roadblocks to adoption and implementation. Political science can help public policy practitioners navigate political hurdles and give good policy a chance to actually improve lives.


Andrew Trexler