Philosophy professor Andrew Janiak presented IDEAS, an interdisciplinary program, at Thursday’s Arts and Sciences Council meeting.
Philosophy professor Andrew Janiak presented IDEAS, an interdisciplinary program, at Thursday’s Arts and Sciences Council meeting.

Duke IDEAS, a new interdisciplinary program that will bring together students and faculty from different corners of the institution, will launch Fall 2013.

The new campus-wide initiative, which involves all 10 schools of the University, will include a number of new certificate offerings at the undergraduate and graduate level, each requiring participation in “project teams,” said Andrew Janiak, Creed C. Black associate professor of philosophy, at the Arts and Sciences Council meeting Thursday. Undergraduates will join students from the other schools to form project teams, each designed to tackle some specific problem within one of five designated themes.

The program will receive a major gift as part of the Duke Forward capital campaign.

“What we’re really doing is using existing elements within the curriculum—study abroad, language study, study in traditional majors—and giving students a path through the curriculum,” Janiak said.

Duke IDEAS will be comprised of five broad themes, each involving a number of related fields of study: Brain and Society; Education and Human Development; Energy; Global Health; and Information, Society and Culture.

“This can make students’ curricular and co-curricular lives more coherent,” Janiak said. “We want it to encompass many different aspects of the Duke experience.” Project teams would exist continuously over several years, with students periodically cycling in and out, though the details of the project teams are still being worked out, he noted.

He added that Duke IDEAS has the potential to excite prospective students, as well as further differentiate Duke from its peer institutions.

The program, however, still needs to determine how to involve such disparate groups of students as, for example, engineering students and law students, Janiak said.

“But we hope intellectual excitement will be the one thing in common,” he added.

In other business

Suzanne Shanahan, acting director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics and associate research professor of sociology, proposed a new experiential certificate program. In this program, students would be required to take fewer courses than they would in the current certificate model and must fulfill an “experience” requirement instead. Students would have to spend a certain number of hours participating in internships, research, service learning or other co-curricular activities during the summer or the school year.

“The Duke experience is no longer about the eight semesters—it’s four continuous years,” Shanahan said. “With winter forums, summer internships, Duke Engage, research experiences—a lot of the learning is taking place outside the classroom. We need to figure out how to have some reciprocity between what happens inside and outside the classroom.”

Similar to the current approach, the new certificate program would still feature gateway and capstone courses, though students would have to declare for a certificate no later than midway through their junior year.

The earlier deadline would be meant to encourage greater student reflection, Shanahan said. In addition, students would have to prepare essays and digital portfolios to be accepted into the program.

She noted that the program would be flexible and that students would have a choice between participating in either the new model or the current one.