When Google Knows You’re Not a Dog: Electronic Identity and Social Media

These past few months I got to join a seminar on Social Media and Public Policy, led by Sanford grad Matt Perrault, now Head of Global Policy Development at Facebook. It’s been a terrific experience. From that source, musings on the potential impact on the social media landscape of evolving personal identification policies.

Am I who I say I am? I can usually satisfy that question with a plastic card, 2 3/8 by 3 5/8 inches in size, featuring my name, the date of my birth, and a scowling, fluorescent-lit semblance of my face. As any college freshman knows, it’s not hard to fake. Transactions requiring a higher level of security might shine a purple light on my ID, swipe a credit card, or ask for a utility bill, passcode, social security number, or name of my first pet. Still not sure? Trace my fingerprints, map the pattern on my iris or the reflectiveness of my retina, or take a snapshot of my DNA.

Aside from the last set (which are resistant to error, just hard, slow, and expensive), any two of these are more secure than the sum of their parts. It’s easy enough to steal my ID card and easier still to guess the name of a hamster (it’s Stuart), but hard to do both at the same time. Taken to a further extreme, this is the principle behind electronic identity cards.

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Sanford LAC presentation event


On Tuesday 24th the Sanford Latin American and Caribbean Group (Sanford LAC) held a reception to formally launch the student group to the Sanford Community.

The passionate discussions we had in our first meetings about what is happening in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as with the region’s immigrants in the United States, led us to create a permanent group that could work as a platform for all members of the Sanford Community to promote academic, social, cultural or career initiatives related to the region.

Sanford LAC, which is led by both MPP and MIDP students, is the first student organization with a Latin American and Caribbean focus at Sanford. Currently, we are 23 students from eight different countries: Mexico, Chile, Peru, Dominican Republic, Brazil, USA, France, and Ecuador.

The ties between the Sanford School of Public Policy and Latin America and the Caribbean are strong. Not only are there 19 students from this region currently pursuing their master’s degree at Sanford, but also one of the first projects of the Duke Center for International Development was to serve as the Secretariat for the Central American Peace Commission in the late 1980s. The Commission successfully drafted the Arias Peace Plan to unite the region.

Throughout the years, Sanford faculty have provided advice and conducted studies around the region on different topics including economic, social, and environmental policy. So far more than 90 students from Latin America and the Caribbean have graduated from Sanford and more students will come.

Sanford LAC’s objective is to build on these strong foundations and bring Sanford, Latin America, and the Caribbean closer to each other. In order to achieve this objective, our mission is to:

Lead and support academic, career, outreach, cultural, and social efforts of the Sanford community focused on Latin America and the Caribbean in order to strengthen collaboration and engagement between the region and Sanford.

In addition, we have defined 4 strategic lines. The first one is Academic Affairs. We would like to increase the discussion about Latin American and Caribbean issues by creating discussion groups between faculty and students, bringing speakers, and participating in conferences. For example, on February 14th some members of Sanford LAC participated in two panels at the UNC-Duke Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

The second strategic line is Networking and Career Outreach. We would like to increase networking opportunities with Duke Alumni interested in the region. We have also started to create partnerships with other Latino groups at Duke, such as the Latino Student Council, and the Working Group of the Environment in Latin America (WGELA).

The third strategic line is Branding Sanford in LAC and vice versa. We would like to support incoming Sanford students from the region. We also want to promote Sanford in LAC and attract talented students.

Finally, our fourth strategic line is Community and Integration. We would like to organize cultural events, such as potlucks and Spanish conversation clubs. At the same time we want to get involved in community activities with local Latino population.

We kindly want to express our gratitude to Dean Kelly Brownell, Prof. Fernando Fernholz, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and to the MPP and MIDP staff who have supported us during this process.We extend the invitation to join Sanford LAC to all the members of the Sanford community interested in any way in this region.

Sanford LAC 2

Follow us on twitter: @Sanford_LAC and/or join us on Facebook

Our Winter 2015 Print Journal is Here!

Our new print edition is out! After months of hard work, the Sanford Journal of Public Policy is proud to announce that our Winter 2015 print journal is ready to go, and we couldn’t be more proud of it.

Sanford Journal Spring 2015 Print Journal








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I Agree with James Fallows: Americans Don’t Feel the Costs of War

James Fallows’ recent cover story in The Atlantic, “The Tragedy of the American Military,” has brought much needed attention to how the U.S. military is treated. Fallows describes the general public and our politicians as being unable to take the military or its troops seriously and of having an unnecessarily “reverent but disengaged” attitude towards those who serve as well as the establishment as a whole.

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National Security Student Group Hosts Retired Major General Michael Repass

General Repass

Photo: Maureen Hartney

On the morning of November 21st, students, staff, faculty, local civilians and military personnel all gathered at the Sanford School of Public Policy for the inaugural event of the newly formed National Security Student Group (NSSG). Attendees sipped coffee and savored pastries in Sanford’s Rhodes Conference Room, a proper setting to host an event ambitiously titled “Special Operations and the Future of American Grand Strategy.”

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Children Orphaned by HIV/AIDS in China Deserve Your Attention

“If everyone can live for others, others will live for you. I have no regret.” –Dr. Gao Yaojie

Eight years ago, the short documentary “the Blood of Yingzhou District” introduced me and many people in mainland China and around the world to an extremely vulnerable group—the children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in China. The film presents the stories of several of these children. Some lost their parents. Others contracted the disease themselves. Gao Jun, at the age of 3, was isolated in the village—even his relatives were concerned about allowing their children to play with him.

The issues raised significant public attention in those days. However, in the past two years, it seems the initial outrage caused by the issue has faded. Exposure on media is rarely seen. The government has yet to develop a clear national action plan or policy for protecting and empowering the children impacted by the disease. Thus, I believe in the need for increased attention on children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

Image from the documentary “The Blood of Yingzhou District”

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