The Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) is offering undergraduate credit courses as part of Duke University’s Summer School Session I, providing an opportunity for students to engage with some of our most popular courses. These discounted remote learning courses are open to undergraduates from any university or college. Current Duke students have an exclusive window to register for Duke Summer Session I courses through April 28 before open spaces are made available to the general public.

A photo of a microphone.

After a national search, the Center for Documentary Studies is delighted to announce that Michael Betts II will be joining us April 13, 2020, as CDS Courses Director, leading our continuing education program into an even brighter future.

A photo of Michael Betts II

The Center for Documentary Studies offers a wide variety of continuing education classes and workshops—CDS Courses—in documentary film/video, photography, audio, writing, and more. A timeline of Spring and Summer 2020 classes is available on the CDS Courses registration site. Duke community members receive a 10% discount off registration fees. The following Spring 2020 film-focused classes start soon.

A woman using a camera with a shoulder rig, the camera pointed ad a group of students around the table in a classroom.

Season 4 of Scene on Radio, the Peabody-nominated podcast from the Center for Documentary Studies, launches January 8, 2020. Over the course of 12 biweekly episodes, host John Biewen and collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika will explore a theme both evergreen and immediately urgent: democracy in America.

Listen to a season preview:

A banner for Season 4 of Scene on Radio, with an excerpt of a Langston Hughes poem highlighting one line

John Cohen (center) onstage at Owen Theatre, Mars Hill, North Carolina, 2004. Photograph by Tom Rankin.

Tom Rankin, Professor of the Practice of Art and Documentary and Director of the MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts program at Duke, remembers “a singular documentary artist.”

John Cohen (center) onstage at Owen Theatre, Mars Hill, North Carolina, 2004. Photograph by Tom Rankin.

The Center for Documentary Studies is pleased to introduce the 2019–2020 Lewis Hine Documentary Fellows, all of whom will be working with community-based organizations in New York City; scroll down for more information on Mariana Calvo, Alex Cunningham, Katie King, and Azzan Quick.

The Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University received a National Endowment for the Humanities award to conduct “The Civil Rights Movement: Grassroots Perspectives (1940–1980)." Originally scheduled for July 2020, the institute has been rescheduled and will be held online July 6–23, 2021. Applications are due March 1, 2021; institute information and application instructions are posted on the institute website at The institute was offered for the first time in summer 2018; for the 2021 institute, CDS is again working in partnership with the SNCC Legacy Project and Teaching for Change.  

Participants at the first NEH-funded summer institute in 2018 toured the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice.

Delhi-based photographer Chandan Gomes will be in residence at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) September 24–28, 2019. Public events with Gomes will be at the Rubenstein Arts Center.

The residency is part of a programming and curricular initiative, "Imaginary Landscapes: Teacher-Students-Artists,” by Center for Documentary Studies undergraduate education director Christopher Sims and Literacy Through Photography director Katie Hyde and is funded by the Duke India Initiative.

An image of the artist, Chandan Gomes.

The Julia Harper Day Award was created by the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) in 1992 in memory of the young woman who was CDS’s first staff member, a writer and photographer of real accomplishment. This $500 award goes to a graduating Duke University senior who has demonstrated excellence in documentary studies and contributed significantly to CDS programs. This year’s Julia Harper Day Award goes to Hangzhou (China), native Sini Nina Chen, a public policy major graduating with a Certificate in Documentary Studies as well as a Certificate in Policy Journalism and Media Studies.

A portrait of Sini Nina Chen