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 that students are well-equipped to become engaged citizens and ethical leaders throughout their lives.
*Gateway course CESC 201S is cross-listed with EDUC 201S, POLSCI 213S and PUBPOL 206S
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
Students must declare their participation in the certificate program before the end of the drop/add period of the fall semester of their junior year. We encourage students to declare their intention to pursue this certificate as early as possible in order to complete all requirements on a manageable timeline.
Students in the Civic Engagement and Social Change Certificate program are required to take gateway course CESC 201S: Engaged Citizenship and Social Change, which will pose foundational questions and frame future learning.
Elective Courses (2)
The second and third courses in the certificate will be two electives that fit thematically within a student's proposed pathway. Electives will delve more deeply into the intellectual themes and concepts introduced in the gateway course while exploring the student's specific interests.
Electives may be taken concurrently with the gateway course but cannot be taken before the gateway. Electives must be completed prior to taking the capstone course.
A sample list of electives eligible for the certificate is found here.
The capstone course, CESC 391: Lives of Civic Engagement, will require students to critically revisit the themes introduced in the gateway course and explored through electives and experiences. The goal of the capstone course is to encourage students to examine their co-curricular experiences through a critical lens and to develop a framework for engaging in community throughout their lives.
To earn the Certificate in Civic Engagement and Social Change, students must complete two thematically related experiential-learning projects that enhance their understanding of their proposed interest area. These co-curricular experiences will provide opportunities for students to work with community organizations and gain the skills necessary for effecting change. The projects should respond to needs identified by the community partner organization and embody principles of collaboration, cooperation and reciprocity.
Experiential Learning Requirements
Students will propose their two co-curricular experiences to a three-person faculty advisory committee who will determine whether they are appropriate for the certificate program. One of the experiences must be at least 300 hours; the other must be at least 150 hours. All completed hours must be verified by a staff member of the partner organization who has direct knowledge of those activities.
Experience Set A
Experience Set A may include activities such as unpaid internships, fellowships, community-based research projects, volunteer service programs and apprenticeships. The 300+ hours required for Experience Set A must be completed in one continuous experience. 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 such as Communities in Schools NC.
Experience Set B
Experience Set B can include ongoing continuous activities similar to those listed above under Set A. However, for Set B, students may choose to engage in several distinct but related activities that, when added together, exceed 150 hours. For example, a student may 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.
Need help finding experiences?
The Duke Office of Civic Engagement maintains a list of the various civic engagement programs at Duke.
Once a declaration proposal is approved, the student will begin their 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 their experiences within the Civic Engagement and Social Change Certificate Program.
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?
- 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?
- How do I know if a course will count toward the certificate?
- I have already completed a relevant experience prior to applying. Will it count towards my certificate requirements?
- Do I have to take the capstone during the spring semester of my senior year?
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. The deadline to apply is the end of the drop/add period in the fall semester of a student’s junior year.
The capstone course is restricted to students in the CESC program, but the electives and gateway courses are open to all Duke undergraduates. Be sure to check the individual course listings to determine if any courses 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 idea of your goals for the program as well as a general interest area on which you want to focus (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.
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.
We have a list of pre-approved elective courses, but you may also submit any course that you believe would align with your proposed pathway. You must include a rationale for why the elective aligns with your pathway, which will be reviewed by CESC faculty for approval. If there is a change in an elective course, you should revise your CESC application in Pebble Pad and include the new course information and updated rationale. You should then contact Leslie Parkins for the proposed change, which will be reviewed by CESC faculty for approval.
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.
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.