Collaborative Project Courses Faculty Fellows Program

Now Accepting Applications for the 2019-20 Collaborative Project Course Faculty Fellows Program!

Submit your application by October 15, 2019

  • Program dates: December 2019 – December 2020
  • Deadline for Applications: Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 5 p.m.
  • Applicants notified: Early November 2019

Duke Learning Innovation, in partnership with Duke Bass Connections, is launching a new faculty fellows program to support faculty interested in designing Collaborative Project Courses (including redesigning existing courses). Participating faculty will receive $5,000, support and guidance from pedagogy experts and faculty experienced in this form of teaching, and the opportunity to collaborate on course (re)design with a group of faculty from across campus.

What are Collaborative Project Courses?

Collaborative Project Courses are courses in which student learning is driven by collaborative research, analysis, and communication on applied projects that extend across an entire semester. Such courses often bridge the classroom and the world beyond the university, giving students a chance to bring their academic knowledge and skills to bear on complex problems under the mentorship of faculty, graduate students, and sometimes community members.

students discussing project

Collaborative Project Courses help students grasp the relevance of their work while also demanding rigorous study and original research, often alongside engagement with a community of practice. When done well, this approach creates a dynamic learning environment and inspires students to take greater ownership of the learning process.

About the Faculty Fellows Program

Collaborative Project Courses often raise new challenges for faculty – challenges related to course design, the framing of projects, the provision of guidance to teams, and the management of group dynamics. This new Faculty Fellowship will establish a cohort of faculty who will learn and work together, with support and advising from Duke Learning Innovation, to develop Collaborative Project Courses for Fall 2020 or Spring 2021.

Participants in the program will re-imagine an existing course, or design a new course, which includes project-based pedagogies in which students work together to create new knowledge, tangible works, and/or creative or artistic products.

The Faculty Fellows program will run for a year and will include an intensive one-day kick-off in December 2019, followed by shorter learning and guidance sessions throughout Spring 2020, an intensive design day in May 2020, and regular check-ins and lessons learned sessions through December 2020 (see full description below). We aim to create an active and engaged learning community where faculty will provide one another with support and advice throughout the program, creating new faculty networks along the way. We will also invite faculty with experience using this teaching model to share their experiences with the cohort and provide advice to participants at different stages of the program.

Recognizing the time that it takes to design project-based courses, Faculty Fellows will receive $5,000 to be used at the faculty member’s discretion (e.g., for summer salary to design the course, funding to pay a doctoral student for assistance in course design, discretionary research funds, funds to support course activities or a TA, travel funding to explore best practice models or seek professional development).

Topics covered through the Fellowship will include:

  • Writing achievable learning objectives and designing a syllabus
  • Structuring in- and out-of-class time effectively
  • Choosing and scoping projects
  • Identifying and working with partners/clients for projects
  • Designing course/project milestones and deliverables
  • Creating and managing student teams
  • Mentoring students to be effective team members
  • Using journaling/reflection to support student learning
  • Assessing student work
  • Preparing for team teaching, if applicable
  • Other topics identified by fellowship participants

Fellowships are limited – apply by October 15, 2019 at 5 p.m.

Program Details

Fellowship time commitment

The Fellowship will require participation in:

  • A dinner and one-day kick-off meeting in mid-December 2019
  • A half-day meeting in early January 2020
  • Meetings every three to four weeks during Spring 2020
  • A one-day planning and design day in May 2020
  • Small group or individual consultations during Summer 2020
  • Monthly meetings and consultations during Fall 2020
  • Support and guidance to help faculty evaluate and revise the first run of the course (on request).

Fellows are expected to attend all meetings, to complete work between meetings, to be prepared for meeting activities, and to design a Collaborative Project Course to be taught in Fall 2020 or Spring 2021.


Faculty of any level and rank and from any Duke school may apply. We hope to form a diverse cohort of faculty who can learn from one another.

The course that participating faculty members design/re-imagine can be either a new or an existing course and can be targeted at undergraduate, graduate and/or professional school students. We expect participants to offer the course in either Fall 2020 or Spring 2021. For existing courses, faculty should have support from their unit for offering the re-imagined course on a regular basis, at least three times in the subsequent five-year period. New courses can be more experimental in nature, but there should be commitment from the unit for offering the course multiple times (assuming sufficient enrollment).

We also welcome faculty who are co-teaching a course to apply. In such an instance, one or both, faculty may apply. If both faculty participate, the pair will receive $7,500 to use at their discretion.

Course and faculty support

Faculty who fully participate in all required meetings and activities will receive $5,000 to be used at the faculty member’s discretion. Funds will be disbursed in summer 2020 to support planning activities.

Faculty will also have the opportunity to learn from and share ideas with a network of faculty, including other Fellows in the program and faculty who are experienced in this form of teaching who have offered to provide consultation to this group. Duke Learning Innovation and the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies will provide consulting and course design guidance, and will also be available to connect faculty to other faculty or resources to support their course goals.  

Application and selection

Applications should be submitted by October 15, 2019 at 5 p.m. via this online form. You may draft your application directly in the online form and save and return to your work. The application will ask you to provide a brief description of the course you intend to design and upload a statement of support from your unit.

Faculty who are co-teaching a course (or faculty who teach different sections of a core course) can submit one application, with one letter of support. The application should make clear that the course would be co-taught and should clarify whether one, or both, faculty intend to participate in the Fellowship program.

Applications will be reviewed by an interdisciplinary group of faculty with experience teaching collaborative project courses. The strongest applications will be those in which 1) the faculty demonstrate a commitment to the goals of the Fellowship, and 2) the course being designed aligns with the curricular goals of the department/school (e.g., re-design of a core/gateway course; creation of a new course to fill a gap in the curriculum).

Decisions will be announced in early November 2019.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Collaborative Project Courses different from Service Learning courses or courses with team assignments?
There are two elements that should be incorporated into Collaborative Project Courses: student teamwork and the generation of some type of authentic product through project-based work. Because of their applied nature and the existence of an external partner, many Service Learning courses align with this model, but not all do. Courses with team assignments can also be Collaborative Project Courses if the team/project work is intensive, takes place throughout the semester and involves the creation of an authentic product (usually this means the product is for an audience beyond solely the course participants and instructor).

What are some examples of a Collaborative Project Course?
This is a flexible model that can be applied in unique ways depending on the focus and goals of a course. That said, several examples include:

Does the course have to be a new course, or can I propose to re-design an existing course?
We aim to form a diverse cohort of faculty working on a range of courses. Courses that address a strategic curricular goal of a given unit will be given preference. Often, this might mean re-imagining a core or gateway course. It can also mean designing a new course that fills a gap in the curriculum. Courses can be targeted at any level of student and can be of any size.

How refined does my course idea need to be before I apply?
We don’t expect you to have a fully-fleshed out idea before you apply, but your general idea must sound like a Collaborative Project Course. If you’re not sure whether the idea you have in mind is a good fit, feel free to request a meeting with Laura Howes, director of Bass Connections, or Andrea Novicki, Senior Teaching Consultant in Learning Innovation, before the application due date, to get some feedback.

Do I have to participate in all the Fellowship sessions?
Yes, Fellows are expected to attend and participate in all of the scheduled sessions, barring a personal emergency of some type. We will work with the selected cohort to schedule group meetings at a time that works for all participants.

Can we propose a co-taught course? What if a course has multiple sections taught by different faculty? Would both faculty participate in the program?
Many courses of this type are co-taught. If you plan to co-teach a course, it is up to you and your co-teacher whether or not you both wish to participate in the program. If both faculty choose to participate in the program, you only need to submit one application. Instead of $5,000 per faculty, the pair will receive $7,500 to use at its discretion.

We also welcome pairs of faculty who teach different sections of a core course. The same arrangements apply (one or both may participate; if both, the pair would receive $7,500).

Do all Collaborative Project Courses involve research?
Many do, but this is not a requirement.

Do all Collaborative Project Courses involve community partners?
Many do, but this is not a requirement.

Are all Collaborative Project Courses interdisciplinary?
No, these courses may be deeply rooted within a discipline or interdisciplinary. All types of courses can benefit from this mode of pedagogy.

Is this program primarily focused on undergraduate courses?
No! Faculty who teach classes for graduate and/or professional students, or mixed-level courses, are encouraged to consider this fellowship. All schools and programs are invited to re-imagine their coursework to include collaborative project courses.