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Contributing to national science and tech policy – 2024

Washington, DC
Dates May 25 - July 20, 2024
Program Focus

Addressing policy making in, and related to, science and technology.

Program Leaders
Program Themes
  • Ethics
  • Public Health
  • Public Policy
  • Science
  • Technology



Information Session:

  • Thursday, October 19, 7:00 PM – Zoom link


During the eight weeks of the program, students will intern with governmental agencies, think tanks, or nonprofit organizations where they will assist with work connected to science and technology policy analysis and formulation and ethics. In addition, students will be expected to engage in enrichment programming and reflections related to the role of Washington DC as our nation’s federal city. We will meet weekly as a group and will attend events related to issues impacting science and tech policy.

The purpose of the program is to draw on what you have learned at Duke and elsewhere to contribute to and engage in the process of developing and critiquing science and technology policy. We expect students to bring knowledge gained during the program back to the Duke community to inform and enrich their academic and service commitments. The Duke Initiative for Science & Society has a long-standing commitment to exploring the connections between science and technology and the policy-making process. The DukeEngage Washington DC program complements Science & Society’s undergraduate offerings at Duke, which include the Huang Fellows program, Science & the Public Certificate, and Digital Intelligence Certificate.

By the program’s end, students should be able to communicate concepts about science and technology that impact our world and are of interest to our federal leadership in an accessible way, understand the structure of policymaking, generate alternative solutions to policy problems, engage effectively with those of differing points of view, working towards creating effective solutions together, and understand the connection between our federal city and the local community.


Community Partnerships

Organizations that might host DukeEngage students, or have in the past, include:

  • New America Foundation
  • Future of Privacy Forum
  • National Institutes of Health (National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
  • Beyond Pesticides
  • Niskanen Center
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Electronic Information Privacy Center
  • Alliance for Health Policy

Examples of projects that student groups have carried out include:

  • Researched and provided policy advice on combatting misinformation on online platforms
  • Explored possibilities for better funding community-based health care providers
  • Wrote items for online newsletters and online information resources disseminated by non-profit organizations to galvanize constituents
  • Prepared a presentation and background papers for staff about the Bayh-Dole Act and university indirect costs reimbursement. Students also prepared case studies of nonprofit disease research advocacy organizations that described their modes of operation in preparation for a 60-expert workshop.
  • Developed projects focused on the experiences of children in foster care systems, including children of color, LGBT youth, and immigrant children, folding in the work of neuroscience as applicable

In applying for this program, students must understand that placement could be at any one of the community partner organizations or others that later become available.



Coursework: It is helpful but not essential to have taken courses in the sciences, computer science, political science and public policy, tech policy, bioethics, or science communication.

Skills: Policy research; oral and written communication.

Personal Qualities:

  • Ability to work productively as a junior member on a supervised team: good listening skills, being willing to take direction from supervisors, and seeking out guidance when uncertain
  • Maturity and good judgment: discretion as to what information can and should be shared publicly is vital while working in a political environment.
  • Self-reliance and self-confidence
  • Problem solving and goal orientation



Housing, meals, and transportation: Students will live together in a university or apartment-like setting with kitchen facilities. Rooms, kitchens, common rooms, and bathroom facilities will be shared. Students will have a meal allowance. This meal allowance will cover groceries to cook in temporary housing. Washington is an expensive city in which to eat out, and the DukeEngage meal stipend is not intended to cover numerous meals outside of your apartment. Students will get a SmarTrip card, which can be used on Metro trains and buses for transportation to and from their placement sites. Cars are not permitted.

Local safety, security, and cultural norms: If you have special needs related to health, culture, disability, or religious practices, we encourage you to contact the program director(s) or the DukeEngage office to discuss whether your needs can be accommodated in this program.

For guidance on how race, religion, sexual/gender identity, ability, or other aspects of identity might impact your travels, we suggest exploring the Diversity, Identity and Global Travel section of the DukeEngage website.


Academic Connections

This program is open to all, and might especially appeal to students taking courses in public policy, computer science or natural sciences, or completing the Science & the Public or Digital Intelligence certificate programs. This DukeEngage program is connected to the Undergraduate Certificate in Science and the Public and Digital Intelligence coursework and class offerings. For more information about Science & Society visit and

Students who participate in this program might go on to pursue courses in Technology Policy, Genomics, Bioethics, or Medicine. For Digital Intelligence students, the experience will count toward their practicum requirement.

Potential program cancellations

DukeEngage cannot guarantee that any program will occur. Programs may be cancelled for various reasons, including COVID considerations.