Civic Engagement & Social Change Certificate
What is it?
The Certificate in Civic Engagement and Social Change is an academic credential for Duke undergraduate students interested in deepening their understanding of social issues by integrating academic coursework with community-based experiences. Students can design learning and experiences around an issue and develop relationships with faculty and community mentors. Students will emerge from the certificate with strategies for engaging with social issues, competence in navigating diverse communities and clarity around possible career paths.
Why civic engagement and social change?
The goal of the certificate is to develop students' capacity to effect social change in intentional, ethical and sustained ways. Students will think critically about volunteer efforts and change movements while developing the skills to tackle societal challenges using different approaches. An important aspect of the certificate is to ensure students are well-equipped to become engaged citizens and ethical leaders throughout their lives.
NOTE: No more than one course and one experience that are used to satisfy the requirements of any major, minor or other certificate program may count towards the Certificate in Civic Engagement and Social Change.
When to Begin the Certificate
You must declare your participation in the certificate program before the end of the drop/add period of the fall semester of your junior year. We encourage you to declare your intention to pursue this certificate as early as possible. With so many students studying away fall semester of junior year, students may want to consider a sophomore year declaration instead.
Request More Information
- Contact Leslie Parkins, Assistant Director, Duke Office of Civic Engagement
Gateway Course: Engaged Citizenship and Social Change
This seminar will be offered during the fall 2017 semester through Public Policy and the Program in Education. Taught by Eric Mlyn, the course will combine lectures and classroom discussion. Students will be evaluated through an in-class midterm and final, a final project on a central civic-engagement concept and classroom participation.
Elective Courses (2)
The second and third courses in the certificate will be two electives that fit thematically within a student's proposed interest area. Electives may be taken concurrently with the gateway course but cannot be taken before the gateway.
Each semester, the Certificate Advisory Committee will review undergraduate course offerings and contact faculty members whose courses may fit well with the program. Students will select their two electives in order to delve more deeply into the intellectual themes and concepts introduced in the gateway course.
A complete list of electives eligible for the certificate is here.
Capstone Course: Lives of Civic Engagement
The capstone course will require students to critically revisit the themes introduced in the gateway course and examined through electives and experiences. The goal of the capstone course is to examine their co-curricular experiences through a critical lens and to develop a framework for engaging in community throughout their lives.
The first capstone course will be offered in spring of 2018.
To earn the Certificate in Civic Engagement and Social Change students must complete two different, but thematically related, experiential-learning projects that enhance their understanding of their proposed interest area. These two co-curricular experiences will provide opportunities for students to work with organizations and gain the skills necessary for effecting change. The co-curricular experiences should in large part respond to needs identified by the community partner organization and embody principles of collaboration, cooperation and reciprocity.
Experiential Learning Activities Requirements
Students will propose the two co-curricular experiences to a three-person faculty advisory committee. The committee will determine whether they are appropriate for the certificate program. One of the experiences must exceed 300 hours; the other must exceed 150 hours. In all cases for both Set A and Set B, completed hours must be verified by a staff member of the partner organization who has direct knowledge of your activities.
Experience Set A
Experience Set A may include activities such as unpaid internships, fellowships, community-based research projects, volunteer service programs and apprenticeships. You will be encouraged by your three-person faculty committee to complete the 300+ hours required for Experience Set A in one continuous experience. In the declaration plan, you must include an essay that identifies the potential community partner organization and why you perceive this particular organization as appropriate. In the plan, you will also articulate the civic engagement/social change mission of the partner organization, its theory and strategy of change, and its resource model. For example, a student interested in educational equity could participate in DukeEngage Charlotte, tutor with America Reads America Counts or do a summer internship with a nonprofit like Communities in Schools NC.
Experience Set B
Experience Set B will also be vetted by the three-person faculty advisory committee. Experience Set B can include ongoing continuous activities similar to those listed above under Set A. However, for Set B, you may choose to engage in several distinct but related activities that, when added together, exceed 150 hours. For example, you might volunteer with a voting advocacy group during the summer and then follow up in the fall semester with a mentored community-based research experience examining voting issues for a combined total of 150+ hours. Or you might meet this requirement for 150 hours by combining hours accumulated during a summer volunteer internship in a neighborhood-based community change organization with work done with a civil rights advocacy organization in the fall semester.
Need help finding internships?
Once a declaration proposal is approved, the student will begin his/her ePortfolio. The ePortfolio is a means of recording the intellectual, personal, social and civic development that occurs throughout a student's participation in the certificate program. The primary goal of the ePortfolio is to serve as a mechanism for deepening the learning process by encouraging the student to document and represent the coherence, intentionality and integration of his/her experiences within the Civic Engagement and Social Change Certificate Program.
The student can begin to shape the ePortfolio during the certificate gateway course and complete it during the capstone course. One objective of this exercise is to encourage ownership over one's education and to engage in the process of self-authorship.
For the ePortfolio, students will be required to provide an intellectual rationale for the curricular choices they make and to select and feature representations of their work that best capture their individual development. Students will have multiple opportunities throughout the certificate program to refine their ePortfolio, to critically reflect on its contents as well as its form and to determine how best to make the ePortfolio public facing.
- Who is eligible to apply?
- When are the application deadlines?
- When should I apply?
- May I still take courses for the CCESC if I am not part of the program?
- What other resources or opportunities are open to me as part of the program?
- What if I don’t yet know what I want my area of focus to be?
- Do I need to know what my specific experiences will be when I apply?
- May I change my plan for my courses and experiences after I am accepted into the program?
- I have already taken one of the electives prior to applying. Will it count towards my certificate requirements?
- I have found an elective I want to take for the certificate that is not on the approved list. Will it count towards the certificate?
- I have already completed a relevant experience prior to applying. Will it count towards my certificate requirements?
- How do I know if an experience I identify will count towards the certificate?
- Will courses, internships, or independent studies I have taken that count towards the requirements of my major/minor/certificate also count towards the CCESC?
- How many courses that satisfy the certificate requirements may be taken in one semester?
- In which semesters are the courses offered?
- Do I have to take the capstone during the spring semester of my senior year?
- How long does it take to complete the certificate?
- Do the experiences have to be completed over the summer?
- What are the requirements of the e-portfolio?
The Certificate in Civic Engagement and Social Change is open to undergraduate students currently enrolled at Duke University and is earned upon graduation in conjunction with their major degree. Second-semester first-years, sophomores and first-semester juniors are eligible to apply. Students may apply as early as the spring semester of their freshman year. The deadline to apply is the end of the drop/add period in the fall semester of a student’s junior year.
Deadlines and details coming soon.
You are encouraged to apply as soon as you are eligible and feel ready to complete the application. The benefits of applying earlier are that you will have a longer period of time over which to complete the requirements and you will have earlier access to the advising and enrichment opportunities that accompany the program. Students must declare their intention to pursue the certificate no later than end of drop-add during the fall of their junior year.
The gateway course is open to all Duke undergraduates; the capstone course is restricted to students in the CCESC program only. The electives are open to all Duke undergraduates (in some cases graduate students as well), but make sure to check the individual course listings to determine if any of them have specific restrictions or pre-requisites.
As a member of the Certificate in Civic Engagement and Social Change program, you will become part of a community of Duke students dedicated to the concepts of civic engagement and social change. Certificate students will also have individual advising, as well as special access to workshops, speakers, mentorship and networking opportunities.
You should apply to the certificate with a clear set of your goals for the program as well as a general interest area that you want to focus on (i.e. education, public health, environment/conservation, etc.) through your courses and experiences. However, we understand that your plan may evolve as you progress through your undergraduate career and accumulate more experience.
You do not need to know what your specific experiences will be at the time you apply to the CCESC. However, you should be able to broadly identify the type of experiences you want to undertake as part of the certificate program and justify why they are a good fit for your overall pathway through the program.
You may change the selection and timing of your courses and experiences after you are accepted into the program, but the basic sequence of Gateway > Electives > Capstone must be followed. We understand that your plan may evolve as you progress through your undergraduate career and accumulate more experience. Regardless, the courses and experiences you end up completing must together form a cohesive pathway and coherent story. All changes must be submitted and reviewed by the student’s three-person faculty advisory committee. (The student will select their committee members from the members of the CCESC advisory committee and teaching faculty.)
I have already taken one of the electives prior to applying. Will it count towards my certificate requirements?
No. The gateway must be completed prior to or taken concurrently with the electives. Because the ePortfolio is intended to capture your courses and experiences in real time and be a vehicle for reflection as you progress through the certificate, your electives will be better maximized if you are part of the program when taking them.
I have found an elective I want to take for the certificate that is not on the approved list. Will it count towards the certificate?
Applicant: When filling out your elective choices on your application, click the “petition a non-approved elective option.” In the text box, provide the elective’s course title, description, syllabus (if available) and rationale for why you believe this course fits your pathway and should count for the certificate. When your admissions decision is communicated to you, you will be notified about whether or not this petition was approved.
Admitted Student: Send an email to Emily Rymell and provide the elective’s course title, description, syllabus (if available) and rationale for why you believe this course fits your pathway and should count for the certificate. The petition will be reviewed and you will be notified by email about whether or not it was approved.
I have already completed a relevant experience prior to applying. Will it count towards my certificate requirements?
Most likely, no. The experiences should occur within the context of the program and be aligned with your area of focus. Additionally, because the ePortfolio is intended to capture your experiences in real time and be a vehicle for reflection as you progress through the certificate, your experiences will be better maximized if you are part of the program when undertaking them.
After you are admitted into the program, you will fill out a series of forms that will be used to determine if an experience meets the criteria for the certificate. The general criteria for an experience are:
- It is hands-on and practical.
- It provides opportunities for you to work with organizations whose purposes include promoting civic involvement, civic responsibility and social change.
- It helps further your individual objective(s) for completing the certificate.
Will courses, internships, or independent studies I have taken that count towards the requirements of my major/minor/certificate also count towards the CCESC?
One course and one experience used to satisfy the requirements of your major, minor or other certificate program may “double count” towards the Certificate in Civic Engagement and Social Change.
You may take a maximum of three courses that count towards the CCESC requirements during a single semester. However, the gateway course must be completed prior to or taken concurrently with the electives, and the gateway and electives must be completed prior to taking the capstone. If you choose to take more than one CCESC required course in the same semester, the pairings may be either (1) the gateway and one or two electives or (2) the electives in the same semester after the gateway is completed.
The first gateway will be offered in the spring semester of 2016. The first capstone will be offered in spring 2017. After that, both the gateway and the capstone will be offered at least once per academic year and we will continue to assess demand to determine whether or not it should be offered multiple times each year. The electives offerings differ on a semester-by-semester basis.
You are not required to take the capstone course during the second semester of your senior year, although this is likely when most people will take it. You may take the capstone any semester after you have completed the gateway course, the electives and both the 150+ and 300+-hour experiences.
This varies depending on when you start the program. You have until the time you graduate from Duke to complete the certificate requirements.
The experiences are not time-bound. You may choose to do them at any time and over any period of time, as long as they meet the minimum hour requirements and are both completed prior to taking the capstone.
After you are admitted into the program, you will be provided with a comprehensive set of guidelines for completing the ePortfolio. This will provide clear instructions for everything, from how to set up your ePortfolio to the specific content it should contain and how it is assessed.