About the University Scholars

Designed to stimulate an interdisciplinary, inter-generational community of scholars, the University Scholars Program was created in 1998 by the Office of the Vice-Provost of Interdisciplinary Studies with a gift from Duke University Trustee Emerita Melinda French Gates and her husband Bill Gates, through the William H. Gates Foundation.

Undergraduate, graduate, and professional school University Scholars are selected for their ability to explore new academic horizons. They represent a range of personal and intellectual backgrounds and share an excitement for original research, collaborative thinking, and innovative scholarship.

Features of the University Scholars Program Common to All Scholars

University Scholars Seminars
These informal seminars, held every two weeks, bring together graduate and professional school University Scholars, undergraduate scholars, and interested faculty, as well as distinguished visiting scholars, scientists and artists. Students of all levels are encouraged to lead a seminar on their own work-in-progress or on a topic of particular interest to them.

Annual University Scholars Symposium
Each year, University Scholars will showcase their research and scholarship in a symposium to which the entire university community is invited. Previous Symposia include:

  • “Reason(s)” (2014)
  • “Futures:  See What Lies Ahead” (2013)
  • “Puzzles” (2012)
  • “Taste:  Determining, Modifying, Consequences” (2011)
  • “Legacies:  Commemorating 10 Years of the USP” (2010)
  • “Two Cultures: 50 Years Later” (2009)
  • “Recycling:  Ideas, Materials, & Experiences” (2008)
  • “Interdisciplinarity in Practice” (2007)
  • “Cities in Evolution: Imagination and Reinvention” (2006)
  • “The End of the World (As We Know It)” (2005)
  • “Truth Lies Within <-> Within Lies Truth” (2004)
  • “We Will Remember It For You” (2003)
  • “Exposing Privacy” (2002)
  • “Perspectives on Political Change: South Africa and USA” (2001)
  • “From Faust to the Future: The Costs & Rewards of [too much?] Knowledge” (2000)

University Scholars Mentoring
An informal, intellectual mentoring program offers interdisciplinary research possibilities, helps to shape multidisciplinary interests into an interdisciplinary program, and encourages collaborative thinking and intellectual risk-taking.

University Scholars Coffees
These entirely student led discussions bring University Scholars together in the casual setting of campus cafés to talk about matters ranging from the practical to the esoteric.

Cultural Programming
Duke Performances offers reduced price student tickets to live music, dance, and other arts events on campus. Students often have the opportunity to meet with the artist(s) before or after their performance in small seminars or discussions.