With my first semester at Duke in the books, I have been reminiscing a lot about my experience in the Knowledge in the Service of Society Focus Program (read more about Duke’s Focus Program at http://focus.duke.edu/about!). I’ve specifically been thinking back to our Interdisciplinary Discussion Course (IDC), which was a weekly dinner series that brought together all of the students and professors from our cluster.
At the beginning of the year, we would have our Wednesday-night meetings at the cleverly named Upper East Side, a room above the Marketplace dining hall on East Campus. Our first dinners included group discussions, film screenings, and guest speakers.
Eventually, however, we realized that our large, uninviting room just wasn’t conducive to engaging IDC dinners. Our professors broke out a big notepad, and we all joined in brainstorming ways to make our weekly meetings extraordinary.
By the end of the semester, our IDC had taken a complete 360. We adopted a theme of “Going Beyond the Wall,” and focused on experiences that exposed us to applications of “knowledge in the service of society” in the community beyond the wall surrounding East Campus: everything from visiting Duke Hospice and a taking guided bus tour through Durham to speaking with the director of the Pauli Murray Project (http://vimeo.com/10355708) at the Duke Human Rights Center and hearing about a former Duke student’s community revitalization work while enjoying dinner at his local restaurant, Beyu Cafe.
I was amazed by how much the Focus program allowed us to get involved in shaping our own education, even as first-years, and I am so appreciative of our professors for giving us that opportunity. Looking back, I think our entire cluster would agree that the result was spectacular!
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