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Experiential Orientation

phone: 919-684-3511 | email: |

Duke first-year students socialize at a Durham Bulls game during Orientation Week.

Experiential Orientation is an incredible weeklong immersion that gives new-to-Duke students the opportunity to dive into an engaging experience that builds community and fosters a sense of belonging around a shared interest. Combining experiential and immersive education with thoughtful team-building, engaging excursions, ​leadership development, and campus and community tours, this orientation model promises to be an incredible introduction to the Duke community.

In 2023, Duke will offer 21 Experiential Orientation projects for first-year students. Students will complete a questionnaire and be matched into a project based on their interests. More information will be communicated to students throughout the summer.  

Students can access the questionnaire through their Duke email in early May. The survey is due by May 31.

Project Arts (pArts) introduces students to the art communities at Duke and in Durham, while creating an inclusive social support network through a common passion and excitement for the arts. This experience will immerse students into one of the following creative arts: dance, music, theater, visual arts, visual media, and creative writing. Throughout the week, students will work collaboratively and expand their artistic knowledge and skills through daily workshops that will end with a final showcase celebration. Students will connect with the Downtown Durham art scene through gallery visits, visit the Eno river, and be welcomed into small families of fellow first-year students and upperclassmen within the program.

Project Band aims to prepare participants for a successful performance season with the Duke Marching Band and for collegiate and life success as they integrate into a diverse, vibrant, and supportive community. Throughout orientation week and beyond, our leaders and members will provide crucial and practical resources to all participants. We will work together to gel into an exciting performing organization as participants bond with their peers and explore Duke and Durham. P-Band is intended for students interested in membership in Duke Marching/Pep Band, which performs for all home football and basketball games. Marching band experience is not required.  

Project BUILD (Building Undergraduate Involvement in the Life of Durham) is an introduction to life at Duke and in Durham through participating in community service and decades-long BUILD traditions. BUILD creates a family through small group “crews” of upperclassmen and first-year students, late-night bonding, and outings in and around Durham. BUILD partners with service sites such as the Duke Lemur Center, TROSA, and Durham Central Park multiple times throughout the week. 

Take risks, make mistakes, and meet challenges while immersing yourself in Durham with newfound friends. Get to know Durham in ways that many Duke students never do, experiencing a bit of the South’s living history, and meeting the people that bring that history to life. Go to locals-only hot spots and connect to the lives of others. Meet with faculty and community leaders to think critically and creatively about how change can emerge from everyday experiences. Our shared charge will be to consider what it means to make lasting change and live into inclusive communities that promote social justice for all. 

Co-sponsored with Duke POLIS, this initiative will give students the skills to be informed, active, and compassionate citizens within the Duke, local, national, and global communities. With a special focus on discourse, finding common ground, and gaining exposure to different systems of change, this project will help students answer the question, “What does it mean to be a model citizen?” Students will learn from and meet important policy practitioners in our local community and our national capital, Washington D.C. Project Citizen is excited to engage students in activities and conversation with students, alumni, and community members that foster relationship building and life-long friendships. 

Want to get to know your new home? Want to explore and experience some of the most fun things around Duke and Durham? What about sampling Durham’s incredible food scene and scaling Duke’s iconic chapel? Or snuggling baby goats and hanging out at the lake with your new friends? Then this experience is for you! You will go on daily excursions around Duke and the Durham area as you discover and enjoy the best kept secrets, activities, and adventures of our campus and within Durham.  

Project Earth will connect first-year students to each other, to Duke, and to Durham by helping them develop a deeper connection with the Earth while exploring local environments. Students will engage with the beauty of nature firsthand, get their hands dirty with solutions-based sustainability, and learn about local climate justice efforts. Together, they will spend time at Eno River State Park, explore Duke’s environmental opportunities and organizations, channel their creativity with upcycled crafts, tour hidden gems in Durham, pick up local goods at the Durham Farmer’s Market, and more! Students will be invited to collaborate and build meaningful connections with each other and the environment that will prepare them for their curricular and cocurricular careers at Duke and beyond. 

Project Edge (pEdge) is a community that welcomes students of all majors, interests, and backgrounds to discover their passions. Look at problems through new eyes, explore the many entrepreneurial resources on campus and in Durham, and meet a diverse array of people led by upper-class mentors who will serve as resources during your Duke career. Throughout the week, you will meet local entrepreneurs, experiment with innovative-thinking, brainstorm new ideas, pitch to like-minded fellows, and more. Come join our community of creative thinkers and driven problem solvers. 

Project Farm to Table builds community through a tool that brings people together like no other: food! This project will encourage students to ask where their food comes from, which parts of the food system they interact with, and how they can be in better relation to the world around them. Through working at the Duke Campus Farm (with humans, plants, microorganisms, and others), learning about Duke Dining, and exploring Durham and its food scene, students will develop a stronger sense of their role in the ways we cultivate, access, value, and think about food. Topics range widely and include beginner cooking skills, food justice activism in Durham, field work in regenerative agriculture, and spending time outside. Above all, Project Farm to Table will help students feel a sense of ease as they transition into Duke by helping first-year students cultivate community. 

Global citizenship is a journey not a destination, but who really knows what global citizenship is? Together, we will both challenge and celebrate the diverse world and cultures we are all part of. Through exploration of the global contexts of Duke, Durham, dance, food, activism, academia, and fun, we will learn to question ourselves and our values, while building a community with each other. You will get to acclimate to Duke and also your broader global-local identity and community through local field trips, food, interactive discussions, and mentorship opportunities.   

Project Habitat is a program designed to introduce students to Duke and the Durham community through service, partnership, and exploration. Participants will partner with Habitat for Humanity to build a home, engage in conversation with Durham community members and leaders, and explore the food and fun of Durham and its surrounding areas. This program is designed to foster meaningful and lasting relationships between incoming students, Duke, and the Durham community. And while meaningfulness matters to us, so does laughter, so we don’t take ourselves too seriously along the way. 

Diversity, inclusion, and equity are important, but we often talk about them as topics of discussion or issues of debate as opposed to seeing how they are interwoven in the world we navigate every day. This track will help you understand your identities and those of others through food, history, arts, and dialogue. The conversations here will help bring together a community that advocates for change through empathy, strength, joy, and dialogue in Duke, Durham, and beyond. This project is likely to spend one to two nights away from campus.

Project Lead is an Experiential Orientation program partnered with the Office of Student Involvement & Leadership, designed to explore leadership in the Duke community outside of traditional definitions. The goal is to inspire students to create positive change through examining personal strengths and exploring how individual qualities interact within diverse communities. At the end of Orientation Week, students will feel more confident in their ability to get connected to meaningful involvement at Duke and will have a deeper sense of belonging to the Blue Devil Family. 

Project Media is a community that encourages students to tell their own story through the art forms of documentary, photography, and broadcasting. We’ll learn about different forms of media, see the media arts that Duke and Durham have to offer, and get hands-on practice in professional workshops! Then, students will work together to reimagine and tell their own stories. Come with us as we learn about the many ways we can tell a story as you create a documentation of your own O-week experience with friends that will last a lifetime!   

Join the team in Duke Rec and PE & Athletics as you explore your wellness, teamwork, and a bit of the athletic culture at Duke. Project Play hopes to create a community in which you’ll find your fit in Duke Rec’s resources and programming. Through group activities, field trips, competitions, facility tours, and more, this immersive track will give you the opportunity to move, use your brain, create lasting relationships, and build healthy habits for your time at Duke.  

Project Preseason is offered in the summer for incoming fall athletes. Students in the participating sports will automatically be placed in this project. All student athletes must still complete the Experiential Orientation Matching Questionnaire.

When you think of a researcher, do you think of someone in a lab coat with test tubes? We promise the boundaries of research are beyond that! pResearch is a community that welcomes all curiosity-driven individuals with a mission to tackle the intimidating broadness of Duke’s research landscape. Throughout O-Week, we plan to explore the intersections of research happening both on campus and in North Carolina’s broader Research Triangle. Our week will have themed days built around introducing students to research and guiding students through the process of answering big questions. This includes trips to downtown Durham, Duke Libraries’ archives, Duke’s medical campus, the Lemur Center, and more! No matter what discipline you’re interested in or experience you have, get ready for a week of exploration of everything Duke has to offer. 

Project SEED (Science and Engineering Exploration at Duke) is designed to introduce and welcome students to STEM at Duke and beyond. Participants will be immersed in the vibrant community of scholars and professionals involved in the field.  We will engage in hands-on creative activities while we explore a variety of STEM fields. Through formal and informal gatherings with this community, students will also receive guidance on connecting with faculty, exploring gateway classes and majors, and finding research opportunities to help them make the most of their time at Duke. We will also spend lots of time getting to know each other and exploring the fun side of Durham. The ultimate goal of Project SEED is to ensure that our students know they belong in STEM & to have fun with a community of peers. All you need is an interest in STEM, and we will do the rest!  

Project Waves is a welcoming, high-energy environment where first-year students find a community they can depend on for their Duke career. Taking place at both the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC, and Falls Lake, students explore a world-class marine research facility on the beautiful coastline as well as camp out at the lake. Waves participants engage in a variety of water activities, including swimming and kayaking, so students should have basic recreational swimming abilities (adequate to swim a short time and distance). In a phone-free and outdoor environment, Project Waves emphasizes community building and the opportunity for self-discovery.   

Join us for an exciting orientation week project focused on your wellness! By the end of the week, you will have a new perception of wellness and leave with a plan to take care of your wellbeing beyond orientation week. We have a variety of activities planned that will allow you to understand and experience the different aspects of wellness that you need to be successful at Duke. From exploring the Duke Gardens to enjoying paint sessions at the Wellness Center and visiting state parks, downtown Durham, local arcades, and more, this track is dedicated to helping you prioritize your mental and physical health. We hope that you will leave this program with a renewed sense of energy, ready to tackle your time at Duke with a focus on your health and happiness. 

Project Wild’s (PWILD) mission is to welcome new students and create a community through a shared love for the outdoors. By participating in WILD, students will have the opportunity to day hike, swim, climb, and camp under the stars in the Pisgah National Forest of North Carolina. Those looking for a bigger challenge can choose to take a multi-day backpacking trip in the area surrounding basecamp. Students will be introduced to the Duke community and resources through upper-class mentors. Come learn about yourself and others by unplugging from technology, sleeping under tarps, making your own food, sharing stories, creating new memories, and reveling in nature with the PWILD community. 

Cell-phone Free
While all projects have times that participants are asked to not be on their phones, expect that these projects are phone-free during the day. We promise that past participants find this to be valuable and even a relief at times. Participants can be fully immersed in activities and spend more time making connections with their peers. Please note that safety measures are in place. There are Orientation Leaders and/or professional staff who have access to phones in case of an emergency! 
Overnight trip
These projects will be away from campus for a night or more. The number of days that participants will sleep off campus (and therefore are not sleeping in their own dorm) is noted within the icon. 

Each student will be placed into one of the 22 projects to experience Orientation Week. Placement will be determined by your answers to the Questionnaire.

You will receive acknowledgment of your placement in early July.

Each project will begin on Sunday, August 20. Move In-day is Saturday, August 19. Please come for Move-In Day and we will get you settled and ready for your Experiential Orientation project.

In this orientation model, there is no cost to participate in Experiential Orientation.

If you would like to request any specific accommodations in order to participate in experiential orientation, please contact the Office of New Student and Family Programs via email at