The Future of Higher Education: A Symposium on Collaborative, Project-Based Learning

Monday, June 26, 2023 - 9:00am to Tuesday, June 27, 2023 - 4:00pm

Project-based learning has received attention as a high-impact educational practice for several decades, yet it often sits at the periphery of the curriculum. Join Duke University for an action-oriented symposium where we will explore how a diverse array of higher education institutions are embedding collaborative, project-based work into the student experience, and how your institution might better incorporate this approach to experiential learning on your campus.

Register by May 26, 2023. 

Day One: Plenary Discussions

During a set of plenary sessions on the first day, we will consider these and other questions:

  • What is the case for collaborative, project-based learning? How does this model benefit students, faculty, and universities?
  • What are the key building blocks for starting a new program? How do you cultivate institutional support?
  • How can institutions integrate such projects and programs into departmental or school curricula, at all student levels?
  • What are the best strategies and resources for preparing faculty and students to effectively collaborate on research teams?
  • When projects are sourced from the community, what approaches foster equitable and sustainable community partnerships?
  • What resources are required to facilitate compelling collaborative projects, and what funding models have emerged to support such undertakings?
  • For interdisciplinary projects, how can institutions efficiently connect faculty and students across fields and help teams work together across disciplinary silos?
  • What challenges complicate efforts to scale project-based learning, and what strategies best overcome those obstacles?

We will also hear from government and foundation representatives about the current landscape and potential opportunities for funding community-engaged research projects that involve students as well as faculty.

Day Two: Action Planning

Working together in facilitated action planning groups, participants will develop plans for piloting, adapting, scaling, and/or assessing project-based learning programs at their institutions.

Pre-Symposium Engagement

In advance of the symposium, we will share a set of short case studies, written by faculty and administrators who have implemented project-based learning programs in their institution, to illuminate challenges, best practices and lessons learned across a range of institutional contexts. These case studies will showcase the variety of “delivery models” for project-based learning in higher education, which range from courses, capstones, and interdisciplinary, problem-centered majors/minors to co-curricular programs, lab-based models, and  community-driven programs. They will also illustrate a set of common features that include collaborative projects, experiential learning, and applied research.

Symposium Goals

  1. Offer examples and guidance on how institutions have adopted collaborative, project-based learning across a wide spectrum of resource settings.
  2. Build a network of administrative leaders across higher education who are invested in adopting collaborative, project-based learning.
  3. Raise awareness of innovative programs that deploy collaborative, project-based learning, identify emerging best practices and develop more standard approaches to assessing the value of these programs.
  4. Spur the adoption of more collaborative, project-based learning across higher education.

Registration and Accommodations

This symposium is free and open to all university faculty, staff and administrators with an interest in project-based learning, as well as higher education funders and leaders of scholarly societies and other higher education organizations. The deadline to register is Friday, May 26. Breakfast and lunch will be provided to all attendees. 

Guests are expected to arrange their travel and accommodations. We have arranged a room block for attendees at the JB Duke Hotel. Attendees may book a room online or by calling the JB Duke Hotel at (919) 660-6400 and requesting Reservations. Please reference Group ID: 963157. Reservations must be made by May 26, 2023

In the interest of making the symposium accessible to all universities, we are able to fund travel and accommodations for a limited number of attendees who do not have access to travel funding at their institution. Please contact Laura Howes at

All attendees should be vaccinated against COVID-19 and we encourage up-to-date booster shots. At this time, masking is optional. 

Students and faculty collaborating

JB Duke Hotel, Durham, N.C.