Opportunities for student-faculty interaction for upperclassmen will soon extend beyond the FLUNCH program.
The Faculty Outings program, previously held during orientation week for first-year students, will be offered to upperclassmen throughout the course of the year. The initiative to expand the program came from students in Tony Brown’s class Public Policy 144S “Social Entrepreneurship in Action” held last Spring, junior Emily Jorgens wrote in an email Aug. 16. Professors involved in the program coordinate off-campus activities with small groups of students.
Outings currently in the works include a pool party, a cooking class and mini-golf.
“Faculty and students interact all the time in the context of academics, but faculty and students would also benefit... from opportunities to interact casually outside of an academic context,” said Dean of Undergraduate Education Steve Nowicki. “That is really value added to coming to a place like Duke where we have such a rich community.”
Jorgens is coordinating the program with senior Bill Hoch and sophomore Tori Cohen. Jorgens said the first outing will take place on Sept. 7. Six professors have committed to lead outings for the first time, including Sonke Johnsen, associate professor of biology and Karen Murphy, senior lecturing fellow for psychology and neuroscience.
Johnsen, who will lead the mini-golf outing, said he sees the outings as a way for people to get away from technology and interact face-to-face.
“I see people getting more and more involved with their little boxes,” Johnsen said. “I banned computers from my classes, trying to get [students] out to do things. We go all over campus.... That’s underneath why I think [faculty outings] are important—it’s important for people... to still interact personally and handle real world objects.”
Murphy’s outing is still being planned, but she said her two goals include bringing together students who might not otherwise meet, and getting students off campus and engaged in Durham.
Jorgens said the themes for the specific outings are coming straight from professors.
“[Professors] have their own unique interests and pastimes in the Durham area,” Jorgens said. “This is an amazing opportunity to showcase hidden Durham gems.... Each outing will be limited to six to 10 students, giving [professors] the opportunity to engage with excited students who are looking to learn more about their hobbies and interests.”
Nowicki said he believes the best ideas for student-faculty interaction come from students, adding that the FLUNCH program—a stipend which allows students to invite professors to lunch twice a semester—was started by Paul Slattery, Trinity ‘08.
“I’d love for students to think broadly about... [ways] for faculty and students to connect,” he said. “I’m really eager to hear more ideas like this.”