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Duke hosts second Arts and Humanities Open House

This past weekend, high schoolers working on their college search had the opportunity to see Duke from a new perspective by looking through the lens of its arts and humanities programs.

Last Saturday marked Duke’s second annual Arts and Humanities Open House. Modeled after the Pratt School of Engineering Open House, the program strives to showcase what Duke has to offer in the fields of the arts and humanities.

“It did just a terrific job of highlighting the depth of the humanities and the creativity in the arts in a very compelling way,” said Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions.

The day kicked off with a welcome address from Guttentag, followed by presentations from the various departments participating in the Open House. Various department were given an opportunity to showcase their specialties, whether in the form of a performance, a speech from a faculty member or a video. The departments involved in the program varied greatly, ranging from African and African American Studies to Philosophy and Theater Studies. Prospective students then broke off to attend sample classes. 

Janiya Miller, a prospective student participating in the program, said she enjoyed her sampled women’s studies class, revealing she had never heard of the subject until she attended the open house.

“I didn’t even know it could be a major,” Miller said.

Four faculty panel discussions, where prospective students could choose from topics including humanities research, language programs, film and performing arts.

Later broke off for lunch at Marketplace, the Student Activities Fair and an Admission and Financial Aid Session. The program concluded with optional tours of East or West Campus, which were tailored to focus more on arts opportunities at Duke.

The Arts and Humanities Open House was first hosted last year, after being gradually developed by the administration. As the role of humanities have become a more popular discussion topic in the public sphere over the past decade, the admissions office began to pay greater attention to these fields on a University-wide level.

“There was a consensus that it was a good time to be explicit and proactive about informing people about the humanities and the arts at Duke,” said Guttentag.

Guttentag described the program as having two main goals: to ensure that students who already had a well developed interest in the arts and humanities understood what is offered at Duke; and to raise awareness of the importance of the arts and humanities at the University in general.

He mentioned that he wanted to show students that they could find a home in the arts and humanities at Duke, but“also a very responsive faculty that will challenge the students as well.” Guttentag added that he believed the program was successful in achieving both of its goals.

One new feature of the open house this year was the addition of a “Speed Dating” event held at the Duke Coffeehouse. duARTS, Hoof n’ Horn, the Arts Annex and the Nasher Museum of Art each hosted a table at the event. Students broke up into four groups, listening to each organization for ten minutes before rotating.

Anshu Vipparla, a senior and chair of duARTS, participated in the event, speaking to the students and answering questions pertaining to arts programs.

“The speed dating worked really well since we were in a small group setting,” Vipparla said, adding that she noticed parents stood back to let the prospective students ask the questions. “It’s important for people interested in the arts to know that we have a lot of arts things on campus."

Vipparla deemed the event a success, mentioning that she hoped the open house could be a stepping stone to more collaboration between the administration and the arts community on campus in an effort to draw more students interested in the arts to Duke.

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