Director’s Message

Director’s Message

With great enthusiasm I extend greetings to each of you as we continue our pursuit of innovative scholarship at the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity (the Cook Center), Duke University’s major research hub devoted to the study of inequality. As Founding Director of the Cook Center, I am proud of our remarkable community of dedicated researchers committed to forging pathways toward a more equitable and just future.  

The Cook Center stands as a beacon of scholarly collaboration, delving into the multifaceted causes and consequences of inequities across economic, political, social, and cultural dimensions. Our mission is clear—not only understand the roots of inequality but, more importantly, to assess existing and develop new tangible remedies that directly address the adverse effects of unfair disparities. We seek to unite Duke’s intellectual strengths as we build an outstanding research center devoted to the study of human disparity, especially group-based disparities. We aim to provide policymakers with findings that will enable them to expand greater opportunity for all Americans and for the global community as a whole. 

Our researchers, motivated by a cross-national comparative approach to inquiry, explore both global and local dimensions of inequality. We tackle overarching social problems while also examining social challenges arising at the intersections of gender, race, class, ethnicity, and religious affiliation.  

Our educational efforts seek to equip high school, undergraduate, and graduate students with the research and critical thinking skills needed to enable them to produce a more equitable future. Here at Duke, Cook Center scholars teach several college courses devoted to the critical study of inequality, including offering, in collaboration with the Department of History, an Inequality Studies minor. Undergraduates also participate directly on Cook Center research projects as members of our study teams. In addition, we support junior faculty across the country through the Diversity Initiative for Tenure in Economics (DITE), a program that provides a mentoring experience for economists to support them in making the transition from assistant professor to tenured associate professor.  The Cook Center also provides opportunities for scholars nationally and internationally to collaborate with the Cook Center through our Faculty Affiliate and Visiting Faculty programs.  

Further, we have a group of exceptional postdoctoral scholars who are exploring social equity issues involving environmental justice and climate change and artificial intelligence. This expands our ongoing research efforts exploring social problems related to health equity, class, wealth, and social mobility, visual narratives of inequality, education policy, and policing enforcement and justice.  

Our talented research associates and affiliated faculty members have published numerous books, publications, and reports, and have been featured in the news locally, nationally and internationally. Cook Center researchers have secured significant funding to support scholarly initiatives in partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, J.P. Morgan Chase, the W.T. Grant Foundation, Walmart, Metlife, the JPB Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Ford Foundation.  

Personally, the study of inequality has been at the heart of my own research activity throughout my nearly 50-year academic career. I continue to be energized by the opportunity to work with the exceptional scholars associated with the Cook Center. I am confident that the Cook Center will continue to generate valuable and socially useful research contributions. 

As we continue our collective journey toward a more just and equitable society, I welcome you to explore the exciting opportunities that the Cook Center offers and invite you to actively engage in our mission, events, research and programmatic efforts. Your dedication, insights, and contributions are integral to the success of our endeavors.  

Together, let us inspire positive change and create a future where social equity is not just a goal but a lived reality. 

William A. Darity Jr. (“Sandy”)
Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics
Duke University