About This Site

Welcome to the Duke University Resources for Responsible and Ethical Community Engagement site. The goal of this website is to provide a centralized, accessible collection of “best practices” and resources that can be used by the Duke community in preparing students to engage responsibly and ethically in their communities.

Why is this site needed?

Many Duke students participate in service or community engagement in Durham and throughout the world, through service-learning courses, DukeEngage, Bass Connections, student service clubs, scholarship programs, summer research, and other local and global initiatives. Notably, many students are responsible and ethical in their engagement, as a result of thoughtful preparation and a humble approach.

Yet, concerns are sometimes expressed by community partners regarding students’ cultural awareness, professionalism, lack of historical context, or lack of awareness of privilege. And evidence suggests that preparation for engagement is inconsistent. There seems to be no centralized resource at Duke for program leaders to find tools that prepare students for ethical/responsible involvement in communities.

Who developed the site?

Resources for Responsible and Ethical Community Engagement was developed by a working group of 10-15 Duke staff members affiliated with programs that connect students to the community. The working group was born out of a “Retreat for Understanding Students’ Engaged Experiences,” a now-annual grassroots effort organized by the Academic Advising Center, Duke Service-Learning, and the Duke Office of Civic Engagement and attended by 50-75 staff and faculty in dozens of offices.

The process

At the 2014 “Engagement Retreat,” this working group asked attendees “Should Duke create a campus-wide “ethics of engagement” training for students engaged in Durham communities? What would be the pros and cons of this approach?” 76% of attendees responded unequivocally that this would be valuable. Another 16% expressed conditional support, making suggestions for how it might be accomplished.

Thus, the working group set the following goals for the 2014-15 academic year:
•       Gather data on models for training students for ethical, responsible and effective engagement with communities in which they are participating in research and/or service.
•       Create a centralized, accessible collection of “best practices” and resources to help prepare students for community engagement.
•       Share our findings with interested parties across campus, with the intent of building awareness of the value of ethical engagement preparation and resources that can be used for this process.
•       Foster collegiality and communication across campus, particularly among those directly involved in student civic and community engagement.

The members of this working group do not consider ourselves to be experts on this topic, either individually or collectively. We began by naming those at Duke we knew of who were already offering strong preparation for community engagement, and asking them to share their practices with us. We also gathered resources from other institutions, and nonprofit organizations. After compiling dozens of resources, we began to categorize them, and divided up into subgroups to continue the work of collecting, compiling, and curating resources. The tabs you see at the top of the page reflect the work of these subgroups.

The site

The current site is our first attempt to make some of the resources we have collected available to a wider audience.

Obviously, thousands of resources exist on the topics addressed here. In our working group’s discussions, we agreed that a smaller, annotated collection of resources would likely be more accessible and practical than an encyclopedic compilation. The resources posted here represent our initial attempts to identify those that might be particularly important or useful.

The working group is still in existence, and it is our plan to continue building this site, based on ongoing suggestions and feedback. There are certainly more resources, at Duke and elsewhere, that should be included here. If you have a question about the site, would like to be a part of its ongoing development, or have a particular resource to suggest, please contact Sarah Russell, Director of Academic Engagement, at sarah.p.russell@duke.edu.