CDS Courses: Frequently Asked Questions

How can I contact CDS Courses?

Schedule a one on one advising session here, email us at cdscourses@duke.edu, or call 919-660-3670.

Who teaches the courses?

Our instructors are working professional artists with demonstrated applied theory and practice within the documentary arts.  Click here for more information about our instructors.

How is COVID-19 Impacting classes and course offerings?

Due to the international health pandemic, all courses, events, and meetings for CDS Courses are all occurring virtually (via Zoom) until further notice.

How long are classes?

Most meet weekly for two to ten weeks, usually in the evening or on weekends. Some are one- to four-day workshops. In the summer we offer weeklong intensives.

When can I register?

Our classes are open enrollment and students can sign up anytime. Registration is first-come, first-served.  If a course you are looking to take is not open for enrollment or is not offered this semester, please schedule a one-on-one advising session with a member of the CDS Courses team by clicking this link. Please note: due to COVID-19, our usual course dates have shifted; check cdscourses.org for the current schedule.

It looks like a class is full. How do I find out if there is still space available?

We encourage you to sign up for the waitlist. If the demand for the course is high, we will consider adding another section. Schedule an advising session to talk through alternative course options.

What should students expect after signing up for a course?

Classes are small, an average of eight students, with a mixed range of ages, experiences, and backgrounds.  Classes are a mixture of technical and applied theory, based in anti-racist and equitable practice. Classes seek to redefine the arts world, aiming to provide a safer space for person-centered constructive critique. CDS Courses’ mission is to train students in making work that sees the entirety of the humanity of the collaborators that students are documenting. 

Instructors will contact students in the week leading up to the start of class. If a class does not reach its minimum enrollment, students will receive a full refund. Most courses require work outside of class, culminating in a short project.

How can I know when a particular course is offered again?  

The lineup changes each term. Courses required for the Certificate in Documentary Arts are offered each term. Some beginning courses, such as Introduction to Documentary Video Editing and Make That Audio Doc, are offered each fall.

Where are courses held?

Due to the current international health crisis, all CDS Courses classes are virtual until further notice.

Typically, unless otherwise stated, all onsite courses are held at CDS (1317 West Pettigrew Street, Durham, North Carolina). In the spring and fall, Duke undergraduate students take courses in the building during the day, and CDS Courses classes take place in the evening and on weekends. In the summer, CDS Courses holds weeklong intensives.

How do I get to CDS and where can I park?

Directions can be found on our website. There is free parking available behind the building or on the street in front.

Do I need to provide my own equipment and editing software/hardware? Can I use the digital photo printers or the darkroom at CDS?  

Due to the current international health crisis, there is no non-Duke staff/faculty access to the Center for Documentary Studies building until further notice.

Outside of summer intensives, students are expected to use their own equipment. If you are currently enrolled in a class, the computer labs are open to you. Students may use our digital printers or darkroom, accessible on a space-available basis, with payment of a lab fee that is good for one semester and is not prorated.

Students wishing to use our printers or darkroom should contact CDS photography and digital arts associate Harlan Campbell (919-613-0942; harlan.campbell@duke.edu). A tutorial may be required.

How do online courses work? 

Instructors of online courses will communicate Zoom links and times a week prior to class starting.  It is recommended that your computer and network connection meet these standards.  To download Zoom click here.

What are the requirements for the Certificate in Documentary Arts?

All students (local or distance) can take the track which best suits them. The Certificate in Documentary Arts is made to support and mentor students in search of new or deepening skills within their existing or new medium of choice. Local and distance students graduate together at ceremonies that include virtual public presentations of their projects. The ceremonies are held in December and May.

Requirements for each track are listed below.

Local Certificate:

Students have four years to complete the following course requirements, along with a final documentary project.

  • Introductory Seminar in Documentary Studies: Traditions, as well as Introductory Seminar in Documentary Studies: Ethics and Practice or the Intensive Introduction to Documentary Studies. We recommend students take these courses in the first year.

  • Elective courses in any media, such that all required and elective coursework amounts to a minimum of 112 contact hours. During this time, students conduct fieldwork and put together a rough draft of final project.

  • Advanced Projects course, during which students develop their projects over six weeks in a small-group setting. This class may be taken more than once.

  • Final Seminar in Documentary Studies, in which students refine and polish their projects. The course culminates with a public presentation and graduation with the Certificate in Documentary Arts. Students must receive permission from the CDS Courses director to enroll in this class.

Distance Certificate:

Students have two years to complete the following course requirements, along with a final documentary project.

  • Introductory Seminar in Documentary Studies: Traditions.

  • Intensive Introduction to Documentary Studies, in which students draft a project proposal with a timeline for completion. This course can be taken at any time in the first year.

  • Elective courses totaling at least 50 contact hours. These electives can be any combination of online courses, summer intensives, and weekend workshops.

  • Two DocuArts sessions. These take place over a long weekend in February. Students unable to attend may substitute the summer Digging In Artists Retreat.

  • Mentorship with an instructor to refine and polish their final projects.

  • The online Final Project Seminar, which culminates with a public presentation and graduation with the Certificate in Documentary Arts.
     

What are some examples of course sequences in different media for the Certificate in Documentary Arts?

Here are sample course sequences in Audio, Photography, and Video to give you an idea of the classes a student might take to complete the program.

Audio

  • Introductory Seminar in Documentary Studies: Traditions, and Introductory Seminar in Documentary Studies: Ethics and Practice or Intensive Introduction to Documentary Studies (38 hours)

  • Make That Audio Doc

  • Elective courses totaling at least 40 hours for local students, or 50 hours for distance students. Elective courses do not have to be in the same medium.

  • Audio Projects for local students, or a mentorship for distance students

  • Final Seminar in Documentary Studies

Photography

  • Introductory Seminar in Documentary Studies: Traditions, and Introductory Seminar in Documentary Studies: Ethics and Practice or Intensive Introduction to Documentary Studies

  • Elective courses totaling at least 58 hours for local students, or 50 hours for distance students. Elective courses do not have to be in the same medium.

  • Photography Projects for local students, or a mentorship for distance students

  • Final Seminar in Documentary Studies

Video

  • Introductory Seminar in Documentary Studies: Traditions, and Introductory Seminar in Documentary Studies: Ethics and Practice or Intensive Introduction to Documentary Studies

  • Introduction to Documentary Video Editing and Introduction to Documentary Video Field Production. Local students can take weekly versions of these classes in the fall; distance students and take weekend workshop versions in the spring.

  • At least one elective course totaling at least 8 hours for local students, or 50 hours for distance students. Elective courses do not have to be in the same medium.

  • Video Projects for local students, or a mentorship for distance students

  • Final Seminar in Documentary Studies