RIPP Fellowships in the Documentary Arts


The Center for Documentary Studies awards Research in Practice Program (RIPP) Fellowships in the Documentary Arts to Duke University undergraduates to complete and present for the public a CDS faculty-advised documentary project on social issues. The semester-long mentoring and professional practices program is an independent studies arrangement that strengthens bonds between students and CDS faculty and builds in more time for projects to mature outside the confines of a regular course. Faculty, with their deep understanding of professional practices and the work involved in elevating fieldwork to professional-level presentations, will guide the students in conceiving of and implementing the most appropriate outcome for their work.

CDS selects two RIPP Fellows each semester who meet regularly with their faculty mentors as they produce and finalize documentary projects for public presentation, for example films, photo exhibits, websites, audio recordings, magazine-length articles, among many possible options. The projects are open to any medium of documentary expression but must pertain to social issues.

Mid-semester, RIPP Fellows present their works-in-progress to sponsoring faculty members, the CDS undergraduate education director, and selected MFA in Documentary and Experimental Arts students for constructive feedback. By the end of the semester, Fellows submit a written plan, including budget, to share or distribute the work; following approval by the faculty mentor and undergraduate director, Fellows receive up to $1,000 to support the public presentation of the completed project.


Applicants must be registered undergraduate students at Duke University who have completed at least one DOCST course and who have already undertaken an intensive period of documentary fieldwork through such opportunities as:

  • Summer fieldwork supported by the John Hope Franklin Student Documentary Awards from the Center for Documentary Studies
  • DukeEngage or Duke Immerse
  • Continuation of a documentary project begun in a DOCST class
  • Fieldwork that they are completing toward a CDS Certificate in Documentary Studies
  • Other creative or research documentary projects as approved by the CDS undergraduate education director

Application Guidelines

CDS welcomes proposals from current undergraduate students at Duke University. Applicants should write a proposal describing the focus of their documentary project and the medium/media they will use.

Applicants must submit the following:

  • One- to two-page letter of application describing the project. Include a statement about the importance of the project, the methods to be used, and project goals.
  • One-page autobiography and resume including name, class year, e-mail address, street address, phone number, and unique Duke ID number.
  • One letter of recommendation written by the CDS instructor who will oversee the independent study. The letter should be e-mailed directly by the instructor to CDS Undergraduate Education program at Regular rank and non-regular rank CDS faculty receive a stipend for this mentoring.
  • Sample work in the form to be used for the project (for example, five-minute video, ten to twenty photos by e-mail or as prints, five-page writing sample). Video samples should be sent as links to pieces on Vimeo or YouTube.
  • Except for the letter of recommendation, which should come directly from the person writing it, we prefer that all other materials come in a single e-mail sent to the CDS Undergraduate Education program at In the subject line of your e-mail, write “DOCST RIPP / your name last"

April 22, 2016 (noon): Priority application deadline

May 2, 2015: Fall 2016 RIPP Fellows announced (with rolling deadline through August 15, 2016, if space remains available)

Project completion funds will be reported to the recipients on a 1099-Miscellaneous tax form. It is the responsibility of the fellows to file their tax liability.