Expanding Undergraduate Academic Experiences

In an increasingly interconnected and competitive global community, undergraduate education is adapting to provide relevant, dynamic learning experiences that prepare students for today’s world. The Duke Endowment is awarding grants to provide students with learning opportunities in and out of the classroom, and to enrich academic and campus life at Duke University, Davidson College, Johnson C. Smith University and Furman University.


Educational trends are shifting toward approaches that help equip students in an increasingly interconnected and competitive marketplace.

Interdisciplinary learning, for example, approaches a topic from multiple viewpoints and creates links between separate fields of study. This encourages students to see the issues from a wider angle, and to develop a well-rounded appreciation for complementary disciplines and perspectives.

In addition, research experience is becoming increasingly important for students moving on to graduate schools and preparing to enter the workforce. Through undergraduate research projects, students develop critical skills, including an ability to set strategy, work on a team, track progress and outcomes, think critically and solve problems, and build relationships with established experts.


Grants from The Duke Endowment have supported several initiatives related to undergraduate academic programs. Here are two examples:

Interdisciplinary Learning

The Endowment gave a $4.25 million grant in 2004 for Duke University to strengthen its undergraduate curriculum to focus on more in-depth studies across disciplines.

Undergraduate Research and Team Teaching

The Endowment gave a $3.6 million grant to Davidson College to establish the Davidson Research Initiative and expand team-taught course offerings, where faculty members from different disciplines work together to give students a broader perspective around a particular area of study.


Area of Work

  • Academic excellence

Program Area

  • Higher Education

Grantmaking Status

The Endowment is continuing to work through current grantees and is not accepting new applications.

Areas of Work

  • Prevention and early intervention for at-risk children

    To equip children and families with skills to ensure that children reach developmental milestones to lead successful lives.

  • Out-of-home care for youth

    To drive child welfare systems toward greater accountability for child well-being.

  • Quality and safety of health care

    Improving the quality and safety of health care delivery

  • Access to health care

    Improving health by increasing access to comprehensive care

  • Prevention

    Expanding programs to promote health and prevent disease

  • Academic excellence

    Enhancing academic excellence through program and campus development

  • Educational access and success

    Increasing educational access and supporting a learning environment that promotes achievement

  • Campus and community engagement

    Promoting a culture of service, collaboration and engagement among schools and communities

  • Rural church development

    Building the infrastructure and capacity of United Methodist churches to enhance ministry and mission

  • Clergy leadership

    Strengthening United Methodist churches by improving the quality and effectiveness of church leadership

  • Congregational outreach

    Engaging United Methodist congregations in programs that serve their communities