Collaborative Project Expeditions

Collaborative Project Expeditions provides support for doctoral students to work with a faculty sponsor to create or redesign an undergraduate course at Duke that integrates collaborative, project-based work as a central element of the course design. Participating students will receive a stipend of $1,500 and will be expected to spend approximately 75 hours over the course of the summer or a semester developing the collaborative project in consultation with their faculty sponsor. We expect to fund two to four doctoral students per year. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. 

What Are Collaborative Projects?

Collaborative projects are learning experiences that require students to work in teams on a research question using the academic knowledge and skills concurrently being developed in the course. Collaborative projects strengthen students’ ability to apply classroom learning to interdisciplinary or disciplinary challenges and work effectively on teams, and should culminate in the creation of new knowledge, tangible works and/or creative or artistic products.

Collaborative projects can take a variety of shapes and may be adjusted to fit different courses, disciplines, levels and goals. Examples of collaborative projects deployed in other courses include having teams of students:

  • Examine a collection of archival materials to develop an interactive library exhibit and research guides to “open” the archive to new scholarship
  • Develop, test and iterate an open-source application to address an identified problem
  • Work with nonprofit clients to design program evaluation plans that meet each client’s needs
  • Partner with an NGO to develop a white paper on a current or emerging policy issue 

For an example of how faculty and doctoral students might leverage the Collaborative Project Expeditions program, read reflections from Professor of Sociology Jen’nan Read and Ph.D. student Colin Birkhead, who redesigned SOC 250: Immigration and Health to integrate client-based collaborative projects. 

How Does the Expedition Work?

Participating doctoral students will be expected to work 75 hours over the course of the term to develop their collaborative project. Depending on the objectives of the faculty sponsor and participating student, this time may include:

  • Consultations between the student and faculty sponsor
  • Development or modification of a course syllabus and project modules
  • Design of course materials and resources for student teams
  • Development of assessment rubrics
  • Outreach to project partners and relationship cultivation

Specific tasks that doctoral students might think through as part of the expedition would include how to:

  • Plan and scope collaborative projects
  • Structure class time
  • Design project plans, milestones and deliverables
  • Identify and cultivate relationships with internal and external project partners (if applicable)
  • Create and manage student teams
  • Manage collaborative student projects in remote learning environments
  • Design and/or connect students to relevant project resources
  • Assess student work (including teamwork)

In cases where a doctoral student is helping a faculty member redesign a course that already includes a collaborative project component, a narrower focus on a particular planning area may be more appropriate. For example, a student could focus her work on identification and outreach to external partners and relationship building, or resource creation for project scaffolding, or another element of project design entirely. Expectations for how a student spends his/her time will be dependent on what is most needed.

Students will participate in a brief virtual boot camp at the beginning of the program (depending on the number of students selected) and will have the option to “meet” as a cohort to brainstorm ideas and share experiences and lessons learned. Students will also be expected to write a short reflection on their experience for publication or for use in a professional portfolio or relevant job market materials related to pedagogy, teaching, teamwork/collaboration and/or project management. 

Benefits for Doctoral Students

Through this opportunity, doctoral students will have the chance to practice course design, collaboration, project scoping and management, team building and leadership.

Ideally, this experience will enable doctoral students to:

  • Work collaboratively with faculty (and possibly staff and external partners) on course design, project management and team building
  • Think critically about course pedagogy and when to integrate collaborative projects into courses
  • Develop concrete learning objectives and clear course syllabi
  • Plan and scope applied research projects, especially with short timelines
  • Facilitate teamwork (e.g., build effective teams, develop and scaffold key resources, troubleshoot interpersonal/team issues)
  • Broaden their intellectual networks and build strategic external partnerships
  • Teach and mentor undergrads

Application and Selection

To apply, please email Meghan O’Neil (mmo12@duke.edu) a proposal including a:

  1. Description of the course that you will be helping to design/update, including an overarching vision for the collaborative project, how the project will be integrated into the course and how this project will enhance student learning in the course 
  2. Plan detailing when you plan to complete this program (e.g., Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Summer 2022) and the specific tasks that you will undertake to develop this idea over 75 hours 
  3. Statement of support from the faculty sponsor that includes a clear articulation of the faculty member’s commitment to the course design plan and the objectives of the proposed expedition
  4. Brief description of your other sources of funding during the period in which you plan to complete this program. Please include opportunities that are confirmed or in process, as well as those for which you plan to apply. (Please confirm that any awarded fellowships during the same period allow supplemental work and compensation.)

Applications will be reviewed by Bass Connections. The strongest applications will be those which include: a strong commitment from the faculty sponsor, clear rationale for how a collaborative project is integral to the course’s learning objectives, well-articulated expectations for what the student will achieve in their 75 hours of work, and evidence of a strong working plan between the student and their faculty sponsor.

Eligibility and Funding Restrictions

Participating students are responsible for adhering to financial policies and restrictions (including restrictions on hours of work per week) set by grantors of any other fellowships or positions held during the funding period. Please note that some fellowships do not allow supplemental funding. Please see the Graduate School Supplementation Policy for more information. We also advise that students consult with their advisor and Director of Graduate Studies about how this opportunity would fit in their academic and funding plans for the proposed period of work.