Knowledge in the Service of Society


This FOCUS cluster pursues themes associated with Duke's strategic goal of using knowledge in the service of society. Increasingly in American higher education, both public and private institutions are underscoring their commitment to civic engagement in their curricular and co-curricular offerings. This stems from an increased recognition of the important role that our colleges and universities play in helping to solve real world problems in our local, national and international communities. Duke’s commitment to civic engagement has been widely recognized, and students in this cluster will become widely familiar with how Duke is engaged with it is many communities.

Students enrolling in the FOCUS cluster will learn about, critique, and explore the conceptual underpinnings of the pursuit of civic engagement and will get real life experiences through a service learning course that places students in a Durham public school and a leadership course that provides students the opportunity to develop and act on enterprising civic engagement ideas.


Seminar: Education 111FS.01 — Pursuit of Equality: Rethinking Schools-Lens of Social Justice, (SS)

  • David Malone, Professor of the Practice, Program in Education
  • Jan Riggsbee, Associate Professor of the Practice and Director of Program in Education
  • Jeffrey Forbes, Associate Professor of Practice in Computer Science


In 1954 the Supreme Court case Brown versus the Board of Education forever changed American schools by ending segregation and creating educational equity. Or did it? Are today's schools any more inclusive or socially just than schools were 50 years ago? Examination of ways schools may or may not perpetuate and reproduce social inequities. Focus on recent efforts to imagine and create socially-just schools. Discussion of our ethical responsibilities as civically engaged citizens to work towards educational equality and provide support of schools that are inclusive, culturally responsive, and democratic. Required service-learning experience working with children in a Durham public school.

Seminar: Public Policy 190FS.03 — Enterprising Leadership and Civic Engagement, (EI, SS)

Lisa Beth Bergene, Associate Dean for East Campus

The course explores ways that students can exercise enterprising leadership to develop innovative, resourceful solutions to important civic issues within and external to Duke University. The course includes four primary focuses: understanding models of change, exploring and practicing enterprising leadership behaviors, reflecting upon ethical values, and designing and implementing a civic engagement project on campus. The pedagogy is experiential in that student teams develop practical initiatives that address real problems.

Seminar: Education 112FS — The Fault in Our Stars: End-of-Life Care and Medical Ethics in the U.S. (ALP, CCI, EI)

Jehanne Gheith, Associate Professor of Russian Culture and Clinical Social Worker for Duke Hospice

Examines policy issues in end of life care by considering personal and societal ethical issues. Cross-cultural analysis of end of life care addressing ethical issues among diverse populations: how do different cultural attitudes to dying, death, and health affect end of life care? Ethical issues include discussion of Death with Dignity/Physician Assisted Suicide, access to health care, whether/how long to keep people alive on machines, and how these decisions are made. Course includes perspective and anticipates debate on how art and literature are important for social change.

Seminar: DOCST 209FS: Digital Photography: Education, Childhood and Growth (EI, ALP)

Susie Post-Rust, Lecturing Fellow of Documentary Studies

Documentary photography as a tool for exploring public education in Durham. Learn digital techniques including camera function, Photoshop, ink-jet printing, audio capture and production of audio-visual slide shows. Discuss ethical issues that emerge as a result of digital photographic impermanence. Service-learning environment consisting of fieldwork photography in collaboration with community organization, culminating in an exhibit. This is a Focus Program Course for Knowledge in the Service of Society. Department consent is required. Instructor: Post-Rust

Faculty Director

Jan Riggsbee
Jan Riggsbee
  • Associate Professor of the Practice
213 West Duke Building, Program In Education, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
(919) 660-3077