Daytime Courses

Duke Summer Academy for High School Students provides a stimulating and thought-provoking learning experience that will help you understand what it means to be a global citizen.  You will choose one course from five options (below), with each option providing a unique and global perspective of citizenship.  Rather than sitting at a desk and simply listening to a lecture while taking notes, you will engage in a variety of interactive assignments designed to build critical skills essential to preparing for the world beyond high school.  You will participate in role playing, discussions, interviews, debates, and other dynamic educational activities while learning alongside peers from around the world.  Summer Academy meets Monday through Friday for approximately six hours a day for classroom activities.  Additional optional enrichment activities are planned for evenings and weekends.

The Global Leader

Leadership and Diplomacy

The world needs leaders and diplomats. The world needs people with knowledge, skills, courage, and commitment to develop innovative and transformative solutions to challenging local and global problems. The world needs you. Over a period of three weeks you will increase your knowledge and practice skills necessary for leading successfully. This program is designed around the Social Change Model of Leadership Development and has three main foci: Self, Group, and Community.

This class will begin by investigating an array of individual leadership skills and will continue to visit and revisit them throughout the program. Based on rigorously researched scientific methods, you will learn and practice how to develop your capacity for emotional regulation, resiliency, self-mastery, self-awareness, mindfulness, and self-compassion. You will also explore your signature strengths, personality style, and approach to conflict. Finally, building upon your individual strengths and skills, group-level skills and processes will be introduced. The goal of this first part of the class is to help transform you into an inspirational leader whom others will want to follow with enthusiasm. Learn an empathetic approach to listening and leading others so you can motivate others to join you in fulfilling your vision with passion. You will develop your communication skills through nonviolent communication techniques and hone your public speaking abilities. The text we use for the course, Search Inside Yourself written by Chade-Meng Tan, reveals how to calm your mind on demand and return it to a natural state of happiness, deepen self-awareness in a way that fosters self-confidence, harness empathy and compassion into outstanding leadership, and build highly productive collaborations based on trust and transparent communication.

Building on the skills and ideas learned in the leadership segment of the class, the focus shifts in the second section to understanding diplomacy through a lens of empathy and political and social engagement. In this section, we will work together through simulation to create countries with unique histories, people, and challenges and understand the challenges of working together for the public good.
You and your teammates will present a "party platform" speech to the other members of your class who represent their own countries' identities and political goals. By means of these exercises, you will develop an understanding of the intricacies of differing political systems. You will enjoy learning from "Storytellers" who will share their unique insight and experiences about what Diplomacy means to them.
In the final course segment, you will be introduced to the topic of international relations and challenged to apply the lessons you have learned to challenges of international politics. You will be challenged to take a holistic and encompassing view of conflict and given an opportunity to conduct your own conflict analysis in class. Taken all together, this course provide a wide-ranging introduction to comparative politics and international relations while affording you the opportunity to develop skills of debate, public speaking, collaboration, negotiation, and political analysis building from the Leadership class.
In both segments of the course, you will actively engage in discussion and activities which bring the course material to life.  

You will not simply be learning a discrete set of skills, but you will experience a personal transformation, coming out of this program with greater self-confidence and changed in a deeply meaningful way.

Find the leader and diplomat inside yourself this summer.


The Global Entrepreneur

Join the global community of young entrepreneurs creating solutions to our greatest challenges!

From internet security to climate change and from healthcare to international trade, today’s leaders need to solve challenges on a global scale that impact millions, if not billions of people. These challenges require ever more innovative, out-of-the-box solutions. Through Duke University’s Global Entrepreneur Academy, you will learn how to think creatively about some of the biggest challenges facing humanity. You will learn how to identify the challenges, understand the complexities of the problem, and develop the innovative solutions that just might help change the world.  You will be put on the path to becoming the next great global problem solver. The concepts you will learn in this course have been refined through years of study, research, and practical use by leading social entrepreneurs and change makers from across the globe.

The globally minded entrepreneur is first and foremost a problem solver. This course uses a three part structure to help you identify, refine, and practice these skills.

  • Week 1: Introduction to Global Challenges
  • Week 2: Problem Solving for Today’s Inventor
  • Week 3: The Innovators Experience

From day one of this academy, you will be thrown head-first into the high-intensity world of global problem solving. You will be placed into teams based upon your areas of interest and will be charged to design your own change-making solution to one of our global challenges. Throughout the three week course you will be guided through problem-solving techniques used by social engineers to change the way we interact with the environment, improve how we use our resources, and engage with under-served communities. In the first week you will learn about global challenges in two categories: (1) the environment, and (2) the human condition. During this time you will also be engaged in a series of collaboration and team-building exercises because no single person can solve these challenges on their own. In week two you will gain more innovative problem-solving techniques to help you learn how to think outside the box and evaluate problems from many different perspectives. Finally, in the third week, you will learn from leading social innovators and entrepreneurs how to overcome the most difficult aspects of taking a concept into a successful, problem-solving project.  

Throughout the academy, you will be provided hands-on mentorship to help you capture all the intricacies of global problem-solving. Lots of people have creative and innovative ideas that die before they ever have the chance to make an impact. The skills you will gain through this academy are critical to all levels of business and social innovation. Creativity, ingenuity, problem-solving, risk-analysis, teamwork -- all are needed by today’s innovators and are skills that are highly coveted at every high-tech job in today’s global marketplace. At the conclusion of this course, not only will you have gained amazing new skills in creativity, problem-solving, and innovation, but you will have learned how to structure a comprehensive project so that it can be successful in the real world.

Are you ready to test your hand at global problem-solving?


The Global Giver

Complete 60 Hours of Community Service and Become a Philanthropist!

Philanthropy – doing things for the good of humanity – is at the core of the Global Giver!  Most people want to make a positive impact on their community. We want to make the world a better place. The challenges are time and resources -- and knowing how best to use them both.

Volunteerism and community service are more than good works. Volunteerism develops leaders with social consciousness, purpose, and a results-orientation. It can often be challenging to find opportunities to do community service, especially when you are working so hard to achieve academic excellence while involved in clubs and other extracurricular activities. It can be equally difficult to know which groups or causes are worthy of your gifts of time, talent, and resources.

A demonstrated commitment to service, however, oftentimes differentiates students in the competitive college application process. In fact, many top colleges and universities require students to have a minimum number of community service hours for their college application.

Philanthropy is something everyone can do. Philanthropy is deciding how to use your own talents and abilities for the well-being of humanity. It is deciding how to give of your own resources or how to raise money that is needed to care for the many challenges facing any community.

This course will give you two powerful ways to change the world! First, in the classroom and through volunteer service, you will learn about your talents and abilities and how social service agencies can make use of those to address community needs. Second, you will learn about philanthropy and how people just like you use their financial resources to support the work of organizations striving to make the world a better place. Students will develop organizational analyses of their community service sites, learning about defining problems, identifying local needs, evaluating services, and measuring outcomes. The class will then serve as a funding body, collectively determining which of the organizations should receive a monetary donation from the Duke Summer Academy Program. While receiving the Mayor’s Service Award for the volunteer work they perform, students will be gaining valuable experience in what it takes to be a contributing member of a board of directors and in making the challenging funding decisions that shape the work of non-profit organizations around the globe. 

Your days will begin with going into Durham and other parts of the Triangle and performing a total of 60 hours of community service across three weeks. You will meet community change agents who have leveraged personal strengths, expertise, or inspiration to create change in their community. Afternoons will focus on learning about your personal strengths and abilities, how to work effectively in teams and how to assess and evaluate the work of the agencies you are serving. At the end of the program, you will share what you have learned in your volunteer experience and present an organizational analysis of the service sites, and collaborate with your fellow students to award a monetary grant to the organization you collectively decide best meets your criteria – you will be acting as a philanthropist!

Duke University and the Summer Academy for High School Students are proud to collaborate with The Triangle Nonprofit & Volunteer Leadership Center, a local nonprofit agency. Since 1971, the Center has worked to strengthen nonprofits, engage youth, and mobilize volunteers to address the unmet needs in our community.

Over 400 high school students engage in community service in the Triangle Area through The Center over the summer months, and you and other students from around the world will join forces with these local students to have a positive impact on the community and make a difference by helping others. More than 1,100 local and regional organizations and thousands of community volunteers use The Center's services. This summer you will work with this prestigious organization and share in its goal to improve the quality of life in the Greater Triangle Community.

As a Global Giver, you will experience the reward that comes with giving back to others and gain the skills critical to making the world a better place!

Duke Global Giver General Liability Waiver


The Global Researcher

Science and Technology Experience in World-Class Laboratories

Biomedical engineering (BME) is a fast moving field, impacting many aspects of our lives.  Biomedical technology can help spot cancer more readily and quickly, track vital signs with a hand held device, and build new tissues to replace parts of the body or even alter our genetic code.  However, the knowledge and experience to create these new technologies requires more training than ever.  Today’s researchers need a broad portfolio of skills to work on the leading edge of scientific discovery.

The Duke Global Researcher Program will help you lay the foundation for future science and technology careers.  You will proactively “learn by doing” with hands-on laboratory work conducted in the teaching labs of Duke University’s biomedical engineering program, one of the top ranked programs in the United States and the most popular major at the (Duke) Pratt School of Engineering.  You will complete laboratory work similar to the exercises that Duke BME majors complete for their degrees.  Over the summer, you will become a researcher with real laboratory experience that can serve as a launching point for careers across a range of engineering fields.

Each day will begin with classwork introducing the various fields within biomedical engineering, including electronic, genetic, and biomolecular technologies.  You will be exposed to a wide range of research areas through guest lectures by biomedical faculty who are international leaders in their fields. The concepts they discuss in the morning will be put into practice in laboratory exercises each afternoon.  Working in teams to understand how to participate in collaborative projects, you will formulate ways to tackle biomedical engineering challenges.  The lab work – for example, the genetic transfection of microorganisms, the microscopic imaging of green fluorescence protein, and electrophysiological studies of nerve stimulation – will give you the opportunity to build and use biomedical instrumentation and conduct measurements on living biological systems.

The Global Researcher course will be further enhanced by facility tours related to research currently underway in the Duke University School of Medicine.  Through interactions with faculty researchers and research staff, you will learn about careers in research and the code of conduct for responsible research.

Throughout the program, you will work on a capstone project in the area of biomedical engineering you find most interesting.  Projects will build upon the lab and course work, placing them in context with research occurring in leading research labs across the world while also pointing towards future work you can do to continue your interest in biomedical engineering.

This program is a powerful first step towards a career in biomedical engineering, introducing you to some of the amazing advances this field has made while also giving you a foundation of lab skills to start your portfolio.  Researchers, however, also leverage many ‘soft’ skills on their way to becoming successful.  To help you appreciate this skill set, you will interact with Duke biomedical engineering faculty. In addition to acquainting you with what is going on in their research labs, these guest lecturers will also share their insights about how to be a successful researcher.  Hear about their paths to academic research, including the challenges they faced and how they overcame them.  Hear also their visions for the future of the biomedical engineering field and how you can prepare to pursue these opportunities.

Participant Agreement for Minors in Duke Laboratories