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Experiential Orientation

phone: 919-684-3511 | email: |

First-year students spell out 2022 during the class photo in front of Lilly Library on East Campus.

For the first time, all incoming students will participate in a new orientation model as a part of their start at Duke. These new experiential orientation programs take the best of our previous Orientation model to create a more inclusive, fun and engaging orientation experience. Combining experiential education with thoughtful team-building, exciting excursions, fruitful free time, campus and community tours and leadership activities, each program introduces students to Duke in unique environments through interaction with classmates, current students, faculty and staff.

Each program has a dynamic group of Orientation Leaders (OLs) who will guide new students through Orientation Week!

Check out all the programs and their descriptions below!

Project Arts  

Project Arts (pArts) aims to provide a space for student artists to be introduced to the art communities at Duke and in Durham, while creating an inclusive social support network through a common passion for the arts. This experience will provide an immersion into one of the following medias: creative writing, dance, music, theater, visual arts, and visual media. Throughout the week, students will work collaboratively to produce compositions that will culminate in a final showcase. Students will connect with the Downtown Durham art scene through gallery visits, build on skills through daily workshops, and create lasting relationships with fellow first-years and upperclassmen staffers through activities on and off–campus.  

Project Edge 

Project Edge (pEdge) is a community that encourages and enables students to pursue their passions and launch their ideas. You will look at problems through new eyes, explore the many collaborative workspaces and entrepreneurial resources here on campus, and meet a diverse array of people led by upperclass mentors who will guide you through the week and serve as resources. We’ll experiment with design-thinking, prototyping (3D printing, UX/UI design, Adobe Illustrator…), pitching, and more. Throughout the week, you will meet local entrepreneurs and leaders who are reimagining business, technology, and policy in ways that help people and build the economy.  

Project Media 

Project Media is a community that encourages students to tell their own story through the art forms of documentary, photography, and journalism. 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!  

Project Research 

Excited about crafting your own independent research in college but unsure how to dive in?  Want to get a head start on acquiring tools that will help you to navigate Duke’s immense academic resources? You’re not alone! With a library system that owns nearly 1,000 volumes per undergraduate student and an interdisciplinary faculty addressing the world’s most pressing challenges, Duke’s student research landscape can be both exhilarating and intimidating. pResearch is here to help and has something for everyone! Our hands-on approach to Duke’s on-site research experts and assets will help you develop research questions, wherever your disciplinary interests reside, and prepares you to make the most out of your time at Duke.  

Project SEED 

Project SEED ( Science & Engineering Exploration in Durham) is designed to accelerate incoming students’ success in STEM at Duke and beyond. Participants will be immersed in the vibrant community of scholars and practitioners involved in the field, including peers, professors, graduate students, alumni, and industry professionals. Through formal and informal gatherings with this community, students will receive guidance on connecting with faculty, navigating gateway classes and majors, and finding research opportunities and summer internships to help them make the most of their time at Duke. Excursions to industry sites in Research Triangle Park will provide opportunities for students to network with professionals in some of the most innovative and prestigious companies in the country and learn how they launched their careers. The ultimate goal of Project SEED is to ensure that our students know they belong in STEM.  

Project BUILD

Project BUILD is an introduction to life at Duke and in Durham through participating in community service. BUILD (Building Undergraduate Involvement in the Life of Durham) introduces participants to service opportunities in the Durham community by partnering with service sites such as TROSA, the Scrap Exchange, Campus Farms, and the Duke Lemur Center. In addition to community service work, BUILD creates a family through small group “crews” of upperclassmen and first-year students, late-night bonding, and outings in and around Durham. 

Project Discover

Get to know your new home. Want to explore and experience some of the most fun things around Duke and Durham? What about hilarious and tasty tours of downtown Durham, the most iconic architecture of campus, including the Chapel and underground tunnels, and the surrounding natural area? 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 & within Durham. 

Project Habitat

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. 

Project Lead

Student Involvement & Leadership’s Experiential Orientation program will provide students the opportunity to increase their capacity to create positive social change. Participants will examine their leadership strengths and explore how those interact within diverse communities. Upon completion, 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 Wellness

Team up with the student leaders in the Wellness Center to spend the week focusing on group wellness. Whether it is walks in the meditation garden, paint sessions in the wellness center, sessions dedicated to healthy practices, or learning about how to be your best self, this track will be dedicated to understanding and experiencing the aspects of wellness you need to be successful in your start at Duke.  

Project Citizen 

This initiative will be co-sponsored by Duke POLIS and help students ask themselves, “What does it mean to be a model citizen?” Focusing on four aspects of citizenship (informed, active, compassionate, and global), program participants will get the chance to take a deep dive into how being an engaged member of their community makes a significant difference in our society. Project Citizen participants will get to live this experience with a day trip to Washington D.C. to meet with elected officials who are Duke alumni and/or from North Carolina.  

Project Change 

Spend your first week on an adventure in the heart of Durham taking risks, making mistakes, and meeting challenges with a diverse group of your peers. You will see Durham in ways that many Duke Students never do, exploring the rural back road communities at Durham’s doorstep and experiencing a bit of the South’s living history. Check out locals-only hot spots and immerse yourself in the lives of others. You will be challenged to think critically and creatively about how change emerges from these everyday experiences. Our shared charge will be to consider housing, gentrification and the legacy of racial covenants—and to live into inclusive communities that value diversity and promote social justice. 

Project Earth 

Project Earth is a track that will connect first-year students to each other, to Duke, and to Durham through three pillars of sustainability: environment, economy, and community. Students will get hands-on experience interacting with solutions-based sustainability, climate change, and environmental justice programming on and off campus. This immersive track will allow first-years and their student orientation leaders to get their hands dirty at the Duke Campus Farm, experience circular economy in action, and reflect on their personal experiences with environmental issues. Participants will be invited to learn approaches to problem-solving and community organizing that will prepare them for their curricular and cocurricular careers at Duke and beyond. 

Project Farm to Table 

From soil magic and kitchen literacy to food justice and health equity, there’s something for everyone in this program, no experience needed! Throughout the week, you’ll hear from farmers, entrepreneurs, Duke chefs, community organizers and other experts about complex and engaging parts of our food systems. We’ll sample local fare and wide-ranging cuisines along the way. Come hungry! 

Project Identity and Culture

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.  

Project Play 

Join the team in Duke Rec and PE as you explore your wellness, teamwork, and a bit of the athletic culture at Duke. 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 Waves 

Project Waves strives to create an open and honest environment in which each first year begins to see Duke as a home. Taking place at both the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC, and Falls Lake, students get the chance to explore a world-class marine research facility on the beautiful coastline as well as camp out and kayak at the lake. Project Waves emphasizes community building, the acceptance of all people, and the opportunity for self-discovery. 

Project WILD 

PWILD’s mission is to welcome new students and create a community through a shared love for the outdoors by backpacking and camping in the mountains of North Carolina. Students are encouraged to challenge themselves to climb, camp, hike, swim, and whitewater raft (all by choice) while bonding with a small group of freshmen and upperclassmen peers. PWILD also leads a backpacking trip to Pisgah National Forest over spring break to extend the adventure to other parts of the state and past orientation week. Share stories, create new memories, and revel in the nature of your new home with the PWILD community. 

Details about Orientation Week:

This year, 18 experiential orientation programs will be offered to help you exchange ideas with your peers, expand your boundaries of learning and connection, explore all the great things North Carolina has to offer, and get excited about starting at Duke!

Submit your Experiential Orientation Program Questionnaire, via the link in your Duke email sent on May 20th! Every student must complete this survey by June 10, 2022.

Each student will be placed into one of the 18 programs 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 program will begin on Sunday, August 21. Move In-day is Saturday, August 20. Please come for Move-In Day and we will get you settled and ready for your Experiential Orientation program.

In this new program 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 Programs via email at