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Directors of Academic Engagement - Global & Civic Opportunities

Global/civic DAEs work with you—whether you’re a Trinity or Pratt student—to explore opportunities in global experiences, civic engagement and interdisciplinary research.          

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The best way to learn about a culture is to experience it. Duke has opportunities of all types in every corner of the globe. As you begin to think about where you want to go, think about your goals. What do you want to get out of the experience?

Language proficiency
In what parts of the world is your language spoken? What classes should you take at Duke before you go?

Cultural immersion
Consider the housing arrangements on potential programs. Will you live with other students traveling abroad? With other students from your destination? With a host family? How much structure does the program have? How much autonomy will you have to explore on your own?

Resources unavailable in Durham
As wonderful as Duke and Durham are, there’s no substitute for the museums, libraries, natural wonders, historical sites and cultural events you’ll have access to during your away-from-Duke experience. If you think you may want to do an independent study or senior thesis that would benefit from these kinds of resources, be sure to plan ahead.

Types of experiences
What do you want to do? Study? Do research? Volunteer? Work or intern? Each is a very unique experience with its own benefits.

How long do you want to be gone? A summer? A semester? A full year? What will fit with your course load? Fall semester of your junior year is not the only option.

An away-from-Duke experience may not be appealing or practical for every student. But you can still explore other cultures both on campus and in the Durham community. A short, non-exhaustive list of opportunities:

Cross-Cultural Inquiry classes
Look for the CCI course code, and learn about a culture you’ve always been curious about while fulfilling a Trinity graduation requirement. Or visit the Culture Shock website during bookbagging. The site compiles classes that are taught in English, and provide practical insight into the culture, customs, literature, arts and politics of people around the world.

Language courses
Duke’s language programs offer a wide array of courses that offer insight into world cultures. Additionally, the Cultures & Languages Across the Curriculum program offers half-credit courses taught in a foreign language and focused on current issues in global health, public policy and the environment.

Volunteer in the community with a student group, as part of a Duke-sponsored program or on your own. Search the Community Service Center's database of volunteer opportunities. Or take a service-learning class.

Global dimensions of Duke
Compare childhood experiences with a classmate from another culture, reach out to a Duke student from a particular country via the International Student Registry or visit a cultural center such as the International House or other office and organizations listed by the Center for Multicultural Affairs.

Global dimensions of the Triangle
Look for ways to interact with North Carolina’s growing international population. Check out the Center for Multicultural Affairs' list of multicultural resources in the Triangle region.

You can talk to a DAE about all of these options and questions.

Major issues that affect communities are shared around the globe, including but certainly not limited to:

  • Health disparities and access to health care
  • Poverty
  • Child labor
  • Education and literacy
  • At-risk youth
  • Environmental issues and sustainability
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Political engagement
  • Women’s rights and issues
  • Immigration and displaced peoples
  • Food production and scarcity
  • Disaster relief and response

Are you passionate about a specific global challenge? You can tailor your Duke education around the study of these inherently interdisciplinary topics. That can be done by simply taking a few courses or designing a Program II major. Or you can focus a class project around the issue, write a senior thesis on it or volunteer locally or globally.

The Duke Office of Civic Engagement highlights many ways to engage civically at Duke.

We can help you piece together creative ways to engage with the issues you care about both inside and out of the classroom. Make an appointment.

We most often think of our “education” in terms of our transcript: classes taken, major requirements completed and grades received. In reality, the sum total of your Duke experience comprises your knowledge base. 

When shaping your intellectual path, consider all the forms learning can take. Try out various methods, and approach learning from multiple perspectives. While not all of the suggestions below will suit the tastes of every student, a well-rounded education will incorporate more than just lecture courses.

The curriculum is designed to make sure you take a breadth of classes. Consider the type/size of classes you take and whether you’ll complete work independently or in teams. Lectures, seminars and labs are very different environments with different learning outcomes. The ability to work in teams is a skill needed in many professional settings.

Close collaboration with faculty
Utilize the top-notch faculty around you. Take an independent study, consider doing a thesis or work in a professor’s lab. Visit our Finding Mentors page for ideas on how to get started, and talk to the humanities or sciences DAE about lab-research opportunities in those areas. 

Fellow students
Duke is full of really smart, interesting people – make a point to learn from them. A few ways:

  • Discuss course choices with a peer advisor.
  • Find someone who has participated in the program you're interested in and ask her/him about it.
  • Take a house course. (Many are taught by students.)
  • Practice your foreign language through the International House’s Duke Language Partners program or at any of a number of regular language-practice gatherings hosted by individual language programs.

Service-learning classes combine coursework with community service, allowing you to take your classroom knowledge and immediately put it to practical use. The service component can be direct work in the community or project-based work for a community partner or “client.”

On-campus lectures and special events
Everyone’s busy, but make time for some of the tremendous speakers at Duke every semester. Watch the Duke calendar and follow your departments and organizations of interest on social media.

Away from Duke
Duke offers numerous opportunities to explore the world. Explore the other tabs on this page and discuss specific options with a DAE.

Student groups
Your involvement in campus activities will deliver some of the most important life lessons you will glean during your time at Duke. Find a student group that excites you.

Work experience
Your work-study job and internships you complete while at Duke provide invaluable preparation for the “working world.” Check out the Career Center’s 10 Tips for Enhancing Your Internship Experience, which can be applied to any job.

Spiritual life
How do your Duke experiences mesh, influence and affect your religious, moral and ethical beliefs? Duke Religious Life has groups representing many denominations as well as interfaith groups.

Other local institutions
Take advantage of the interinstitutional enrollment agreement and take a class at UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State or NCCU. Or attend their lectures or special events.

Durham community
Don’t limit yourself to Duke’s campus. Experience Durham’s diversity and culture by volunteering in the community, seeing a show at the Durham Performing Arts Center or attending a free public concert at Durham Central Park. Browse local blogs for a snapshot of all Durham has to offer.

This is not an exhaustive list. If something piques your interest, we can help you explore more options. Make a DAE appointment.