UCCE discusses the future of civic engagement at Duke

Earlier this month members of the University Council on Civic Engagement met with Susan Lozier, Chair, and Noah Pickus, Vice Chair, of a newly appointed faculty steering committee to discuss civic engagement as part of Duke’s new strategic plan.

Professors Lozier and Pickus are meeting with a series of focus groups over the next few months to develop a vision for our university for the next ten years.  They hope that four to six overarching themes will emerge from these conversations which will serve to define the priorities of the new plan.

“What do you want to preserve about Duke and what do you want to change?”  Professor Lozier asked our group of faculty and staff civic engagement program leaders. She encouraged us to think of undergraduate civic engagement programming in the new plan as just one part of a more extensive two-way translation between the university and external communities.

Council members named several hopes as well as concerns and asked for clarification about how the work of this new committee overlaps with those already underway at the Imagining Duke Curriculum committee, the DukeForward campaign, and our Singapore and China campuses.

The DukeForward campaign is raising funds for goals set as a result of Duke’s 2006 plan, Learning to Make a Difference, explained Pickus.  The goals that follow from the priorities named in the new plan will be the focus of Duke’s subsequent fundraising campaigns.

By meeting with focus groups like the UCCE, Lozier and Pickus hope to gain clarity on campus preferences in regard to the following:

  • Should we continue to allocate resources to seeding new programs and initiatives (the “let a thousand flowers bloom” strategy of the 2006 plan) or should we instead invest in consolidating existing ones?
  • Why are our residential campuses important to maintain?  Lozier described Duke as a “high touch” university and asked us to think our campuses not just as physical locations but as clusters of communities in and out of the classroom.
  • How do we more effective share innovative research and teaching methods developed in the professional schools with our undergraduate population?
  • Globalization and interdisciplinarity are built into Duke’s DNA, claimed Lozier, but she and Pickus are finding that there is a growing interest on campus to increase Duke’s engagement in Durham and regional communities.  She ended this discussion with a challenge:  Could Duke be to the Research Triangle what Stanford is to Palo Alto and Silicon Valley?