Through our Education programs, you will explore the complex social, psychological, economic, historical, political, and cultural issues that impact schools and school children. Our mission is to provide opportunities for you to combine coursework in your major with interactive academic coursework and hands-on service-learning experiences focused on educational issues. You will reflect deeply on underlying educational principles and gain the insight needed to become advocates for educational issues within the United States.

Our programs foster the development of these essential learning outcomes:

  • Intellectual Skills (reasoning and critical thinking)
  • Cross-Cultural Competency (appreciation of diversity)
  • Civic Responsibility (agents for social change)
  • Ethical Reasoning (thinking through issues of values)
  • Empathy and Perspective Taking (examining viewpoints of others)


The mission of the Program in Education is also influenced by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). These external accreditation agencies require evidence-based, data-driven program review on an ongoing basis.


The Program in Education is committed, both in our own practice and the education of students and TPP candidates, to understanding the teacher as LEARNER (Liberally Educated, Advocating, Reflective, Nurturing, Engaged, and Respectful). These core concepts frame our work and shape both our programming and our ways of relating to with our candidates, school and community partners, one another, and the larger University.

Liberally Educated: The teacher preparation program’s positioning within the University's larger commitment to a "superior liberal education" makes us somewhat unique in our design. The Unit does not offer an education major, but rather builds on the excellence and depth of content knowledge our students acquire through their studies across campus and beyond. It is our conviction that our graduates benefit from this commitment to supporting rigorous study in multiple disciplines, met with the excellence of our intensive teacher preparation programs.

Advocating: We recognize that good teachers are good leaders. We prepare our teachers to be advocates for students and schools both within the institutions where they will be employed and in the greater community. We model our commitment to cultivating leadership by our own participation in advocating for the place of teacher preparation within a Tier 5 research institution as well as our commitments to advocacy for PreK-12 students in our region.

Reflective: Central to our praxis is an ongoing commitment to reflection. Our previous conceptual framework (ALERT: A Liberally Educated, Reflective Teacher), placed “reflective” as the most significant modifier in describing the teachers we educate. We continue our deep, institutional commitment to this value throughout our programs.

Nurturing: Held in constant tension with the challenge of high standards for academic excellence that we expect of our candidates and in turn encourage them to expect of their students, we seek to maintain a culture of fairness and compassion. Recognizing that in our formation of teachers we are invested in the whole student, we encourage candidates to recognize the role of nurturing in their own professional identities.

Engaged: The University has made its commitment to civic engagement a clear priority, and our programs have been leaders in Duke’s efforts. We are international leaders in the development of service-learning pedagogies in teacher preparation. Beyond the scope of traditional fieldwork, our emphasis on engagement reconceptualizes the partnership between pre-service teachers, community schools, and the University by drawing attention to broader social and ethical considerations of the schooling experience. Graduates of our program are unequivocally clear that their commitment to teaching is a commitment to a life of civic engagement.

Respectful: Finally, the Unit emphasizes a culture of respect as we companion emerging professionals towards teaching diverse populations. By actively and critically engaging questions of power and privilege, we prepare our candidates to meet their students where their students are, and with all those students bring with them to the learning community.