The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University teaches, engages in, and presents documentary work grounded in collaborative partnerships and extended fieldwork that uses photography, film/video, audio, narrative writing, and experimental and new media to capture and convey contemporary memory, life, and culture. CDS values documentary work that balances community goals with individual artistic expression. CDS promotes documentary work that cultivates progressive change by amplifying voices, advancing human dignity, engendering respect among individuals, breaking down barriers to understanding, and illuminating social injustices. CDS conducts its work for local, regional, national, and international audiences.

Our Strategic Priorities

We believe that a story, well told, can deepen insight and empathy, encourage connection across differences, and open possibilities for meaningful change. CDS is focused on priorities that will expand this vital impact in the world and advance the documentary field:

  • Diverse Voices: Engage a range of people who bring fresh perspectives to the documentary arts
    By creating new avenues for bringing in a broad range of students, audience members, and other participants, CDS will attract and support artists whose stories can transform society
  • Teach/Produce/Present: Provide cutting-edge learning experiences; produce and present exceptional documentary work that resonates in the world at large
    By investing in technology, production facilities, programming and outreach, and exceptional faculty and visiting artists, CDS will enhance the cornerstones of our mission—experiential and collaborative learning; the production of and support for original work that connects life, learning, and art; and the presentation of work by artists who create new ways of seeing and understanding the human experience
  • Doc Exchange (DocX): Build an innovative workspace that expands the boundaries of documentary innovation and exploration
    By establishing an exploratory, collaborative workspace for artists, scholars, and students to explore and develop multiple artistic and interdisciplinary approaches to storytelling, CDS will push the documentary field to new levels of achievement.

The Center for Documentary Studies is a 501c3 nonprofit affiliated with Duke University. For information on supporting our work, contact CDS development director Mike Gulley: 919-660-3699 or michael.gulley@duke.edu.