The following report outlines a major new Duke commitment: Every Duke student during his/her undergraduate career will have the opportunity to pursue one intensive summer- or semester-long service experience paid for by Duke. DukeEngage will be launched in the summer of 2008; a pilot program will be run in the summer of 2007. We hope that within five years, by 2012, a quarter of the student body will participate. A coordinating entity, the Duke Center for Civic Engagement (DCCE), will support students, faculty, staff and community partners in creating a culture of engagement that is broad, deep and mutually beneficial.
Duke has a long legacy of civic engagement, as well as an evolving understanding that the best education we can provide for our students includes one that connects them to the outside world. We know from our students who undertake serious service activities that the benefits are threefold: society gains; our students achieve a deeper appreciation of the challenges and issues that inspired their service; and they come away with a deeper passion for their educations.
Over the past two decades, linking academic interest with public service has been a growing priority at Duke. The University’s past three strategic academic plans have increasingly called for greater emphasis on education that combines research, service and learning. The latest strategic plan, Making a Difference, puts still greater emphasis on “the learning that arises when theoretical intelligence is tested in the arena of real human needs.” The plan, approved by the Board of Trustees in September 2006, calls for nurturing in students a life-long passion for making a difference in the world – by deepening the undergraduate experience to increase opportunities for experiential learning of this kind.
It is also clear that national recognition of the importance of helping college students participate in projects that serve community needs and interests is increasing. Duke belongs to Campus Compact -- a coalition of nearly 1,100 college and universities dedicated to incorporating democratic participation and public service into campus and academic life that has seen its membership double in the last decade. The National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America’s Promise in its 2007 report College Learning for the New Global Century calls for every student to engage in some form of field-based learning. It argues "[I]n a democracy that is diverse, globally engaged and dependent on citizen responsibility, all students need an informed concern for the larger good because nothing less will renew our fractured and diminished commons."
In light of all these factors, in the fall Provost Peter Lange, convened a group of Duke faculty and staff to recommend ways the university could expand undergraduate civic engagement opportunities and their potential to transform lives -- both of the students and those with whom they interact. He also asked the group to develop a proposal for enhancing existing efforts so more students might be able to apply their academic interests to real-world problems.
Our committee, made up of specialists in helping students apply their knowledge beyond the classroom, examined existing opportunities that link service, academics and research at Duke. Our work was informed by the 2006 report prepared by the Dean Robert Thompson’s Committee on Civic Engagement, which outlined the social as well as pedagogical value of this approach to undergraduate education and argued for stronger infrastructure support.
We also took our inspiration from Duke students who are already deeply engaged in their communities - such as one who started a summer camp for siblings of children with cancer and raised money and established ongoing student leadership needed to sustain the project. Some of us know the engineering student who traveled to Uganda last summer and worked with two villages that lacked stable water supplies. Using the data from that site assessment, this year he is researching and developing technologies to improve the water quality. Next summer, he will return to the villages to implement his ideas, installing piping, wells, and spring boxes to collect groundwater. Others know the Spanish/psychology major who took service learning education classes at Duke and worked in Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership schools before going on to spend 10 weeks in the summer working for a NGO in Honduras on teenage sexual health issues and ultimately becoming so committed to service that she is going to teach inner city children upon graduation. Yet others were familiar with a student who had an internship at Lincoln Center in New York and came back to Durham to found Arts Connect, which matches Duke student-artists with children from local neighborhoods to explore the fine arts. There are dozens of such stories, some of which are highlighted on Duke web sites and publications such as Learning to Make a Difference, Hart Leadership and its Enterprising Leadership Initiative, Engineers without Borders, Senior Stories, LEAPS (Learning through Experience, Action, Partnership and Service), Student Stories, and Build Your Own Duke.
While opportunities for these kinds of student experiences are varied and rich, they are scattered across campus and are frequently under-funded. They also differ in terms of the time commitment our students are able to devote to these activities. We know that more than 80 percent of our students volunteer while at Duke. We estimate that about 500 undergraduates each year participate in some form of service learning, which combines classroom work with public service. Perhaps about 100 a year choose to pursue individual projects and activities during a summer. Unfortunately, the financial burdens of working for nonprofit organizations and finding housing in major cities make it impossible for many Duke students to pursue immersive summer civic engagement opportunities.
Under the new program, all students, regardless of whether they qualify for need-based financial aid, will be eligible for full DukeEngage funding. We do this because a substantial proportion of students who almost qualify for aid might otherwise find this kind of summer experience financially inaccessible. It is also a statement of the fundamental institutional value we assign to this program, the experiences it provides, and the growth of character, ethical commitment and maturity it fosters.
DukeEngage promotes more of the kind of student-driven engagement outside the classroom that changes students’ lives and produces a positive impact on the larger world. Civic engagement should become a core Duke value, supported by an effective infrastructure. To make a major leap forward in helping more of our undergraduates make these deep and profound connections, Duke will launch DukeEngage and create a coordinating organization:
- DukeEngage will be a flexible program that will encourage all students, regardless of their financial resources, to spend a semester or summer immersed in field work that contributes to the public good
- The Duke Center for Civic Engagement (DCCE), a fully staffed umbrella organization for all undergraduate civic engagement activities at Duke, will serve as the coordinating confederation of relevant civic engagement programs and as an incubator for new programs and projects
Building on Tradition
"What I've come to understand is that at Duke, public service is not some ornamental activity extraneous to the real business of the place. The culture of service is strong here because it grows directly from the mission of the school-this school having been founded, in Mr. Duke's words, to serve ‘the needs of mankind along physical, mental and spiritual lines."
President Richard Brodhead, Inaugural Address, 18 September 2004
Our nation’s institutions of higher education have always sought to address important local, national and international issues. But the recognition of the importance of instilling in students the value of democratic participation and public service – and the ensuing growth and education that civic engagement fosters – is a more recent manifestation of this central and historic mission.
Duke has long been focused on applying knowledge to address societal problems. The founding indenture of Duke University, written in 1924, calls for a university that “conduct[s] study along sane and practical lines” and harnesses the power of higher education for larger societal goods. Across the university, students, faculty and staff in the professional schools, the medical center, undergraduate programs and administrative units alike are reaching out to do something for those in Durham, the state and the world.
For the past two decades, the Community Service Center has guided thousands of Duke students to serve in Durham. The Hart Leadership program and its Enterprising Leadership Incubator help Duke students become engaged citizens through critical reflection and action and have also empowered thousands to pursue innovative solutions to community and global problems. In the past decade, Duke expanded opportunities to participate in community-based projects by founding the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership and developing service-learning initiatives through the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Center for Documentary Studies, the Nicholas School of the Environment, the Pratt School of Engineering the Program in Education – and by creating the Office of Service Learning in 2006.
Merit scholarship programs such as B.N. Duke and University Scholars have also provided Duke students with innovative summer immersion experiences. Robertson Scholars, for instance, spend eight weeks in Ho Chi Minh City, living with Vietnamese roommates, teaching English and learning Vietnamese, taking a course on contemporary Vietnamese society, participating in cultural exchange and home construction projects.
Our post-graduate programs and professional schools are also leaders in directing study and action toward solving societal problems. The Duke Law School Community Enterprise Clinic trains law students to serve as resources for non-profit organizations and low-wealth entrepreneurs while offering the students a chance to practice law rather than merely read it. The Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship in the Fuqua School of Business is a national leader in demonstrating how to strengthen community institutions by training students and leaders to apply business acumen to social ventures. These are only a couple of examples that illustrate the types of service programs that have become part of the fabric of our campus and help us set the stage for a significant increase in these types of activities.
We are fortunate to have President Richard Brodhead as a strong, articulate champion of Duke’s emphasis on putting knowledge to the service of society. From the time of his inauguration as President, he has consistently exhorted students to link their intellectual interests with service and pledged to make it easier for them to do so. Testing and amplifying classroom learning by putting it to use in real-world settings should become an even more prominent aspect of a Duke undergraduate education. DukeEngage will further this goal. With President Brodhead’s leadership, we are confident that we will be able to make service and Duke synonymous.
Civic engagement can take many forms, ranging from individual volunteerism to political participation. As Michael Delli Carpini of the Pew Charitable Trusts defines it, civic engagement is “individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern.” In addition to being an end goal, civic engagement is an effective approach to pedagogy, resulting in active experiential learning. As the classroom lessons of citizenship and leadership are applied and tested in real-world environments, students develop the means to use their minds and develop ethical commitments with maximum vigor. These experiences can have a powerful formative impact on students when they venture out of their comfort zones and integrate thought with action. We know the qualities we want the Duke graduates to possess. Civic engagement experiences help foster those characteristics, including:
- the initiative and entrepreneurial spirit required to make a difference in the world
- a deep cross-cultural respect, appreciation and understanding
- an active commitment to society
- an appreciation for education and a set of essential, transferable skills
- the ability to apply knowledge creatively and across boundaries
- the ability to articulate and implement solutions to problems on a micro and macro scale
- an appreciation for what can be done alone and how relationships and resources can be leveraged for the common good
While many forms of civic engagement can further the educational goals described above, our experience tells us the most robust learning occurs when students are immersed in their field work for a sustained period of time.
There are already at Duke many examples of students developing through civic engagement activities the qualities we want our graduates to possess. One public policy student spent a summer working for a semi-conductor manufacturer in China teaching HIV/AIDS prevention to employees. Rather than follow someone else’s lesson plans to convey information, she drew upon her understanding of public health policies and theory to develop a full-blown training program complete with assessment protocols. At the end of the summer, she left behind a sustainable public health education program tailored to the private sector and brought back to Duke the wisdom she gained from her efforts implementing theory into practice. If the student had spent only a short time in China, she likely could have helped teach a group of people about HIV/AIDS prevention, and that would have been something good for the world. But the immersive quality of the young woman’s work enabled her to have a much more substantial experience and impact. She was able to reflect upon the Chinese culture, connect it with her own knowledge, and contribute a lasting public health program that allows her influence to extend beyond her stay. DukeEngage will create the infrastructure and support to allow any Duke student who has the desire to create or participate in this kind of activity.
We envision DukeEngage as a summer or semester of intense field-based work that contributes to the public good. We expect this program to become a signature aspect of a Duke undergraduate education, giving students cross-cultural exposure while introducing them to their own ability to make an impact in the world. Under its auspices, every interested undergraduate should be able to venture into the world to hone his or her skills in addressing issues of societal import.
All DukeEngage programs will have at their core the goal of urging students toward active exploration and encouraging them to unleash their creative problem-solving energy. We want to empower students to go to places where they have never imagined going, much less never been. We want them to stretch themselves, move out of their comfort zones to work with people from different backgrounds and experiences. We want them to have the opportunity to become better at surmounting the barriers of race, class, language that tend to isolate and reduce one’s ability to address social problems. Experiencing the challenges and set-backs and that can come from working with different types of people will help our students learn the skills of collaboration and teamwork that are so important in today’s globalized economy.
DukeEngage will include three different types of learning opportunities.
- Those that are sponsored and organized by Duke, possibly through a class or existing service learning program
- Those that Duke coordinates with outside providers that specialize in organizing student internships or volunteer work in the U.S. and/or abroad
- Those that are initiated by students through grant proposals
For all of these, DukeEngage programs will be local, national and international in scope. We anticipate that our own community of Durham will be an important location for some of these programs.
Student-initiated projects will be designed in collaboration with faculty or staff and take place in local, national and international communities. Other projects will include individual and group efforts that encourage the building of essential transferable skills in and out of the classroom. All projects will need to be approved and supervised by DCCE.
Starting in the summer of 2008 (with a pilot in 2007), any Duke undergraduate who has completed at least two semesters of classes would be eligible to participate. These projects will take place during the sophomore, junior, and senior academic years or the summers preceding them, after a student has had an opportunity to acclimate to college and to have had experiences in the classroom and beyond that that can prepare them for these more intensive engagements. Though these experiences can be valuable at any point in a student’s college career, we believe the summer after the first year is an ideal time to introduce the educational framework. DCCE will create a summer gateway experience for rising sophomores that would involve substantial group service projects and establish the foundation for applying knowledge in the service of society and life-long learning.
Because students develop at different rates and at different times our program will be flexible enough to allow for several different types of experiences at different points in students’ college careers. While a sophomore, for example, might benefit most from a group service project that includes more structured reflection; a junior might already have a passionate interest in urban development. She might benefit more from designing her own experience that includes taking an internship with the Chicago Housing and Urban Development organization while gathering research for a senior thesis on public housing projects. A pre-med senior with EMS certification might choose to spend a semester working with a health cooperative overseas.
Duke’s commitment to institutionalize civic engagement will be expressed by making these experiences available to all eligible students. They will be sufficiently funded so that no one is deterred from participating because of finances. To that extent, any student participating should receive travel expense and a cost-of-living stipend sufficient to cover the full experience. For students receiving financial aid, the summer or semester earnings requirement should be waived for the time they are participating in the DukeEngage. This waiver would be in addition to the one-semester waiver that is already allowed for internships.
While it will be the task of DCCE to define fully and oversee DukeEngage, several core elements will govern the criteria for experiences:
- Students must address some issue of civic interest, though we hope there will be a large variety of different ways and issues that students choose to engage. Possible projects can include, but are not limited to: researching a problem and implementing a solution, working with communities and their self-defined needs, interning for an arts related non-profit organization and working with government or non-governmental organizations. Work with for-profit entities, businesses, or corporations might qualify for support through DukeEngage if the student’s work is directed toward the public good.
- While it is not necessary that DukeEngage be tied to coursework or research, the project should be sparked by some kind of intellectual question or involve some application of academic skill, and should be linked to broad issues and themes of societal import. Many of these projects will stem from relevant academic experiences, but we want to encourage creativity and exploration by allowing projects that may not be explicitly linked to previous course work but still involve learning through engagement. For example, if a student becomes interested in disaster relief after reading news articles about Katrina, she could arrange to work with Federal Emergency Management Administration on site, but she could not merely pick up storm debris in the Gulf Coast as the core activity of her experience.
- We will embrace projects that propose entrepreneurial solutions to societal problems and work to promote and sustain these ventures.
- The experience should be immersive in nature, in that if it is conducted during the semester, it should be the student’s central activity, not a peripheral one. It is not, for instance, something they will pursue in addition to carrying a full course load.
- We will require a rigorous application process. To ensure that student proposals can in fact be implemented, the application process will require a clear outline of the nature of the project, community partners and program logistics. The application process will also require that the student describe what the project contributes to society and to his or her own learning and personal growth. The process will be designed to attract as many students as are interested, and will be designed not to reject students but instead work with them so that they are able to design clear and workable projects. Because one of the goals of DukeEngage is to have as many students participating as possible, all satisfactory applications should qualify for funding and support, and DCCE staff will work with students to help them formulate compelling proposals.
- To qualify for financial support, the experience should last a minimum of one academic year semester or a lengthy period during the summer (generally about eight weeks).
- Course credit may or may not be awarded, depend on the timing and nature of the DukeEngage experience.
Duke Center for Civic Engagement
The Duke Center for Civic Engagement (DCCE) will serve as the administrative umbrella organization for all undergraduate civic engagement activities at Duke. It will exist as part of the Office of the University Provost, and consist, in part, as a loose coordinating confederation of new and existing civic engagement programs. Coordination should take place with organizations that connect service and learning, including but not limited to the Office of Service Learning, the Hart Leadership Program, the Community Service Center, and various scholarship programs.
To maximize the transformative value of these experiences, we need to ensure their quality, help students connect their field work with their intellectual inquiries, and guide students in developing mentoring relationships with Duke faculty, staff and students and members of the broader community. The university also needs to make sure that cost is never an impediment to a student pursuing one of these transformative experiences.
Among DCCE’s initial responsibilities would be the following:
- help make civic engagement a visible and durable part of Duke’s undergraduate culture
- encourage and foster faculty effort and support
- represent and support interests of community partners
- lead in developing assessment protocols for civic engagement
- oversee development and implementation of DukeEngage
- convene an annual civic engagement event
- establish the particulars for the thematic governance structure detailed below
DCCE will be led by a director and support staff whose responsibility would be to create and implement DukeEngage projects and to coordinate with other campus programs. The DCCE director will report directly to the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and have a dotted-line relationship to the Dean of Trinity College and the apposite administrators in the Pratt School of Engineering and Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. The director and staff will have the responsibility of recommending specific requirements to offer some form of transcript recognition for students who complete a rigorous level of civic engagement.
The center will be guided by a faculty advisory board, a national advisory board, and a student action board.
- The faculty advisory board and faculty chairperson, appointed by the Provost, will play a crucial role in making this center and its work a vital component of the Duke undergraduate intellectual experience. This board will have the task of attracting participation of regular rank faculty as well as relevant staff.
- The national advisory board, to be appointed by the President -- upon the recommendation of the director and Provost -- should include some members of the Duke Board of Trustees and alumni. The board will help identify and support new undergraduate opportunities. We very much want this external support and involvement to be a signature element of the Duke Center for Civic Engagement and DukeEngage. Alumni are in a unique position to provide support for these new initiatives through their ties to their local communities and their knowledge of the needs of these communities. We can imagine Duke alumni connecting students to local agencies and assisting with many aspects of the logistics of these new programs. The power of this approach has already been demonstrated in the Duke Alumni Summer of Service initiative. The Alumni Association is further poised to make a contribution to this effort with the recent creation of a new standing committee on service learning.
- The main task of the student board, to be appointed by the DCCE Director, will be to advise the DCCE director on program development and student outreach. We will also ask members to promote these programs to Duke students. Our work with this board is grounded in the belief that students themselves must initiate meaningful change in the undergraduate student culture.
The work of DCCE will involve identifying service and research opportunities, connecting students with faculty, staff and community partners, as well as supporting work in the field. It will also play a convening role on campus and beyond, in helping to assess programming, sponsor talks and symposia and to disseminate information about its educational model. DCCE will help ensure the quality of these real-world learning opportunities, and help students connect what they learn in the field to their own course work and independent research activities. Finally, DCCE will become an incubator for new programs and initiatives in civic engagement.
In addition to maximizing the impact of existing programs and providing resources for new student and faculty initiatives, DCCE will help foster a lively peer mentoring environment that includes undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, faculty and staff. Intergenerational student-to-student mentoring will help us foster a culture of mutual support and encouragement for DukeEngage students. It will organize an annual centerpiece event for students to gather and share stories of their experiences, reflect on what they have learned, and strategize about how to integrate their ideas and experiences into the life of the campus. We envision that this will take place at the beginning of each academic year. The goal will be to expose first year students to DukeEngage early in their college careers and encourage habits of citizenship.
Assessment and evaluation will be an integral part of DCCE’s responsibility. Before the first students participate in the program we will identify desired outcomes, benchmarks, standards of quality and data sources. These objectives will be developed in partnership with the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, the Trinity College Office of Assessment, an external evaluator, and members of the faculty advisory board of DCCE. We are interested in measuring student outcomes, including changes in knowledge, attitudes and behavior based on their participation in DukeEngage programs. We also believe it important to measure whether our student engagement leaves something of tangible benefit to the community partners.
Preliminary models project total annual spending on DukeEngage of $2.6 million, with most of the money dedicated to direct student support. Duke is in the process of raising sufficient new funding for DukeEngage, and, if needed, will use institutional funds dedicated to the enrichment of the undergraduate experience to meet program needs. Based on our experiences from other Duke programs that engage students in immersive learning, student stipends may range from $4,000 to $11,000, depending on the length and location of the experience. Stipends for a domestic summer experience will fall at the low end of this range, and semester international experiences will be closer to the high end. If participating in group projects planned by Duke or providers hired by Duke, all program costs as well as a living stipend will be provided. Because we are committed to not allowing financial need to prevent any student from participating, we project that we will invest $250,000 annually to waive the summer earnings requirement for students who qualify for need-based aid. Faculty and staff will be compensated for their mentoring roles. DCCE administrative expenses, including assessment and communications, are projected to be $565,000.