Duke University, Sanford School of Public Policy

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Developing a Global Mindset in an Era of Collaboration,
Interdisciplinarity and Change

Bruce W. Jentleson

Bruce W. Jentleson
Professor of Public Policy and Political Science
Sanford School of Public Policy
Duke University


What challenges will graduates face as they move into prominent global policy roles in the United States and around the world?

Three stand out. The need for interdisciplinarity: The age of siloed knowledge is over. Few if any of today’s policy challenges sit squarely within one discipline or policy area. Multiple knowledge bases, diverse skill sets, and highly collaborative dispositions are key. Adaptability: Interconnectivity, fast-paced information flows, and frequent outside-the-box developments mean that neat models are less helpful than being open to expecting the unexpected. Global Perspective: Especially for Americans, it’s essential to get beyond parochialism and thinking that the best ideas are always made in the USA. We have as much, if not more, to learn from others about effective policy as they do from us.

What unique programs does the Sanford School offer to prepare students for this environment?

The Sanford School offers numerous channels for developing the collaborative mindset so essential to success in the global arena. Our programs include a Master’s in Public Policy with the options of Global Policy or Security Studies concentrations; a Master’s in International Development Policy for mid-career professionals from over twenty-five nations; executive education programs for policy practitioners from China and many other countries; and a PhD program.

Students regularly share classes and break bread across program and national lines. They also cross unit lines with joint degree programs with Duke’s Law School, Fuqua School of Business, Nicholas School of the Environment, and Global Health Institute. Internationally, we offer programs on Global Policy & Governance and Global Health in the center of international policy—Geneva, Switzerland—as well as new programs in India and China and internship opportunities on every continent. Our program and research centers include those focusing on media and democracy, philanthropy, leadership, and social policy, and all of them combine international and domestic perspectives.

What makes your faculty distinctive?

Terry Sanford, who had such a distinguished career as North Carolina Governor and Senator, founded our school while Duke University President with a commitment to blending the scholarly and the experiential. Our faculty has grown and developed in that tradition. We are highly interdisciplinary—representing no less than twenty academic disciplines—and also have distinguished practitioners from government, political consulting, diplomacy, journalism, international development, and public health.

In my own career I have served in a number of policy positions, including in the State Department in the Clinton and Obama administrations, and remain engaged with foreign policy colleagues in Washington, D.C. My colleagues have been top officials in the Defense Department, Treasury Department, the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Congress, the World Bank, and India’s Administrative Service, as well as at international NGOs and major foundations. Our insightful research and wealth of practical experience help our students grow intellectually and gain practical skills in negotiation, group project management, and other staples of professional life.

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