Leslie Parkins, Ed.D. | Assistant Vice President and Director for Civic Engagement, Durham and Community Affairs
On behalf of the Office of Durham and Community Affairs, we welcome new students to Duke and to Durham! For those students who are returning, welcome back to campus and our broader community. The energy of the campus is palpable as students return and the campus is buzzing again with people and activity. It can be an exhausting time of year for many who are preparing campus for each student, but it is always an exciting time.
As we begin a new academic year, I want to offer an invitation to all of us that are a part of this campus community to acknowledge and honor the role Durham plays in the life of the university. I hope each of you invests in getting to know Durham as much as you invest in exploring the campus. It’s important to understand that Durham has helped shape Duke, and Duke has played a role in Durham too.
I have lived in Durham since 2006 and both my kids are in Durham Public Schools – I would agree with the sentiment that if you love Durham, Durham will love you back.
Below are my recommendations to begin to explore Durham a bit more, but be sure to ask others for their recommendations of ways to get connected to Durham too! There are a variety of opportunities to learn the histories of Durham and Duke, both on-campus and in the community – this list is a just a small sample of what’s available.
Learn about Durham
Service-learning courses give students the opportunity to integrate community-engaged experiences into academic coursework; many service-learning opportunities are here in Durham.
Lead the Way Durham is a course offered by the Hart Leadership program (PPS270: Civic Engagement/Community Leadership – Lead the Way Durham) that provides an opportunity for students to learn about issues in Durham and how local grassroots efforts are shaping local leadership.
Learn about refugees resettling in Durham through the Kenan Institute for Ethics Launch Lab course: ETHICS 215. This service-learning course partners students with locally resettled refugees through mentorship, school enrichment and community support activities.
BullCity 150 offers exhibits to explore racial and economic injustices that have been a part of Durham’s 150 year history. Learning these stories are essential in understanding where we are as a community.
Durham has a number of walking tours that can help ground your understanding of the city and its history. Preservation Durham offers a Civil Rights History walking tour the third Saturday of the month.
The Pauli Murray Project identifies key points of interest for a walk, ride or drive through Pauli Murray’s neighborhood to learn more about this local champion for civic and human rights.
Hop on the BullCity Connector to become familiar with this bus route and stops in downtown Durham and nearby areas. It’s free and runs from Duke’s East Campus to Golden Belt every 17 minutes (Monday-Friday, 6:30am-9pm, and Saturday (10am-9pm).
Get involved in Durham
Attend the upcoming Volunteer Fair on Sept. 19, 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. in Penn Pavilion to learn about ways you can become involved through service and advocacy in Durham.
Local elections are coming up – make sure you are registered to vote either here in Durham or in your hometown. Duke makes it easy to navigate how to vote here or at home through Duke Votes.
Explore the arts, food, and community in Durham. A great way to do all of those in one place is by visiting the Durham Farmer’s Market on Saturdays from 8 a.m. – noon.
Get connected to Durham
This past summer, the Office of Civic Engagement became a part of the Office of Durham and Community Affairs, which already housed the Community Service Center. This change allows for us to serve you better as you find ways to meaningfully engage in the community. If you have questions about getting connected to Durham, please contact us at Durham and Community Affairs. We’re happy to help! Have fun getting to know this community while you are a student here. Don’t miss out on how it can shape your views and experiences. I look forward to seeing you on campus and in the community!