In order to gain real-world application of knowledge and invaluable hands-on learning, students will complete two different experiential-learning activities that are thematically related to the pathway that the student has laid out in his or her declaration and that, combined, engage with all three dimensions of sustainability. These experiences must have a Sustainability Engagement focus: Each experience must integrate at least two of three primary dimensions of sustainability (society, economics, and environment), and the experiences must be undertaken in response to needs identified by community partners and embody principles of collaboration, cooperation, and reciprocity. One of the experiences must exceed 300 hours; the other must exceed 150 hours.

Experience Set A: One of the experiences will meet the following criteria:

  • Exceed 300 hours
  • Deeply engage with at least two of the three key dimensions of sustainability
  • Demonstrate relevance to the underlying themes of the student’s particular program
  • Be verified by a Duke or community partner organization.

Students are encouraged to complete the 300+ hours for Experience Set A in one continuous immersive experience. Experience Set A may include, but is not limited to, activities such as DukeEngage, internships (e.g., a research internship with a local government sustainability office), fellowships, apprenticeships, and other similar extensive experiences.

Experience Set B: The second experience, or set of experiences, will meet the following criteria:

  • Exceed 150 hours
  • Deeply engage with at least two of the three key dimensions of sustainability
  • Demonstrate relevance to the underlying themes of the student’s particular program
  • Be verified by a Duke or community partner organization

Experience Set B can include the activities similar to those listed above under Set A if deemed appropriate by the thematic advisor. For example, a student could complete DukeEngage the sophomore summer (300+ hours) and then complete a volunteer internship in the junior summer (150+ hours). For Experience Set B, however, student may alternatively choose to engage in several distinct but related community engagement activities that, when added together, exceed 150 hours. If the student combines multiple activities for this experience, they must compile verification forms from their supervisors in each activity.


Duke Engage
Duke Immerse
Social Science Research Institute (SSRI)
Preorientation Programs


DukeEngage provides undergraduate students an immersive service experience locally, domestically, or internationally for at least eight weeks. Students each year participate in a vast range of civic engagement activities, including environmental advocacy, community outreach, global health, education, social justice and more. DukeEngage enables undergraduates to translate classroom knowledge into service to society in unprecedented numbers and ways.

A student in the DukeEngage Portland program worked with the local government’s planning and development department to update a guide called Creating Livable Streets. This guide was made available to planners, business owners, developers and community leaders and explains how to integrate street design with nearby land uses to encourage walking, biking and transit, and ensure the well-being of people and wildlife. The student’s primary job was to conduct walking audits of livable streets in the Portland area, taking photographs and interviewing stakeholders about their experiences, to be used in case studies in the updated guide.

Students in the DukeEngage Guatemala-Antigua program visit multiple communities over the course of the summer, making presentations and providing grassroots consulting. For example, over several weeks a group might ask questions of women who want to start a business selling peanut butter to help them delineate their target market, make a presentation that helps a community group refine their vision for building schools and recreation centers, and survey community members to determine the feasibility of offering home blood sugar testing kits for diabetes patients.

Many DukeEngage programs can be utilized in order to fulfill one of the experiential components of the certificate. Attached HERE is a document that provides detailed examples of DukeEngage programs and their role in satisfying the experiential requirement of the certificate.



DukeImmerse is a semester-long program in which all courses are small seminars, interdisciplinary and build on a single theme and is an academic counterpart to the DukeEngage program. DukeImmerse provides the opportunity for integrating academic courses, faculty interactions, and real-world learning.

The past DukeImmerse, Urban Environmental Justice & Social Entrepreneurship, delves into sustainability issues through academic learning, hands-on research and social entrepreneurship. The interconnections of community health, environmental policy, and economics are deeply embedded into the program. In addition, students learned to design and implement meaningful opportunities for community engagement.

In order to learn more about current and future DukeImmerse programs, please click here.


Social Science Research Institute (SSRI)

SSRI brings together researchers with interests in problems that cross various social and behavioral sciences, including problems that connect with the humanities and natural sciences. SSRI programs promote multidisciplinary collaboration among scholars as they work on important social issues that are challenging to address fully from within any given discipline.

One SSRI project that relates directly to sustainability is the Food Working Group. The Food Working Group creates a central hub for food-related research on campus. This includes working with Duke Campus Farm, presentations on food security and policy, research on obesity and community gardens, and many other multidisciplinary projects.

In order to learn more about current and future SSRI research opportunities, please click here.


Preorientation Programs

Duke offers six Preorientation Programs to newly arriving undergraduate students taking place between one to two weeks before First-Year Orientation Week. Project WILD (Wilderness Initiatives for Learning at Duke) provides first-years with an opportunity to experience a two-week backpacking trip through North Carolina forests. On the trail, students gain hands-on experience with environmental sustainability matters. Project Waves provides a similar opportunity with a focus on beach and water activities. Project Search provides a unique opportunity for first-years to experience research in multiple disciplines, which can encompass areas related to sustainability such as society, economics, policy, and global health.

In order to learn more about current and future Preorientation programs, please click here.


Are you a student who has completed an experience? Or an organization looking to host a Duke student? 

Fill out this quick survey to help establish an online database that documents sustainability projects available to students and enrich the certificate experience for future students.