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Visiting Scholars

As part of its global mission to improve the quality of public policymaking through research, teaching, and policy engagement, the Sanford School of Public Policy and DCID host both short- and long-term Visiting Scholars on a highly selective basis. Preference is given to requests from universities and other research and public policy-oriented organizations with which the School has collaborative institutional relationships.

Most visiting scholars have a PhD and come to DCID to perform independent research related to their field under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Applicants should indicate their research interests and identify faculty in DCID with whom they would like to work during their time at Duke. Applicants should also include a recent curriculum vitae and their research proposal, and confirm that their funding will be sufficient to cover monthly subsistence costs, health insurance, and the School’s administrative fee (based on the length of the Scholar’s visit).

Visiting Scholars may visit DCID for up to one year, during which time they can audit classes offered by MIDP and have full access to the Duke University Libraries and computing resources in the Sanford and Rubenstein Hall Buildings. The administrative fee for visiting scholars is $6,000 per semester; the minimum monthly living expenses required by Duke University for visa issuance purposes for an individual is $2,325.45 per month.

Among the preconditions are:

  • The candidate must have a research proposal of interest to one of the DCID faculty and that this faculty member would be available to act as academic advisor
  • There would preferably be an institutional relationship between the candidate's employer/university and the Sanford School of Public Policy/DCID
  • The candidate would have strong command of the English language
  • The candidate would be highly recommended by professional colleagues
  • The candidate would have appropriate institutional sponsorship/financial support from his/her sponsoring organization

Interested candidates should contact Dr. Francis Lethem, Professor of the Practice Emeritus, at francis.lethem@duke.eduand Ms. Cheryl Bailey, Assistant Director, at (Domestic visiting scholar applicants and applicants to the Magdalena Yesil Visiting Professorship (Armenia) program, please contact Linda Lytvinenko, Assistant Dean for Academic Programs at the Sanford School.

Please include:

  • Letter/email indicating the reasons for your interest in DCID and general agreement with the principles outlined above
  • Research proposal
  • CV or resume, including your picture
  • Letter of support regarding your scholarship/policy work from two professional supervisors or colleagues
  • A copy of your top two publications
  • Proposed dates of visit
  • Funding source meeting above requirements
  • Optional: Your TOEFL or IELTS score if coming from a non-English speaking country


Current Visiting Scholars


David Tolbert 

With the support of the Ford Foundation, human rights lawyer David Tolbert will spend nine months at Duke University as a visiting scholar at the Sanford School of Public Policy. Tolbert came to Duke on February 1st as he steps away from his position as the president of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), a human rights organization focused on accountability and transitional justice. He will based here at the Duke Center for International Development. 

Tolbert has worked overseas for much of his career, including nine years at the United Nations Yugoslavia Tribunal where he oversaw an office of 400 international prosecutors and investigators. Tolbert also served as the Registrar of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and as Assistant Secretary-General and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Expert on the Khmer Rouge Trials. He has written dozens of scholarly articles and book chapters over the last three decades. In 2016, he contributed to a collection of essays edited by Robin Kirk, who co-directs the Duke Human Rights Center. The essays examine Argentina’s response to human rights abuses by the military dictatorship in that country from 1976-1983. Tolbert also writes op-eds for wider public audience and regularly appears in the Huffington Post.

At Duke, Tolbert will focus on three interrelated policy issues within international justice: how to improve the effectiveness and impact of the International Criminal Court, how learning from international transitional justice efforts might be applied to racial injustice in the United States, and how to respond to emerging challenges to the promotion of human rights in an era of populism. Tolbert chose the Sanford School of Public Policy because of the school’s excellent reputation and its mission to discover and promote innovative policy solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

A native North Carolinian, Tolbert holds a B.A. magna cum laude from Furman University, a J.D. from the University of North Carolina and an LL. M. with distinction from the University of Nottingham. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

(Photo by Laura Barisonzi)