Kenan Purpose Program


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The Kenan Purpose Program helps students forge purposeful paths beyond graduation.

Open to Duke sophomores and juniors, the program combines rigorous reflection, insights on meaningful work, and opportunities for mentored, funded internships. You will understand your place in the world better, building a stronger sense of not only where to go from here but why.

If you are starting to think seriously about your life post-Duke and haven’t quite figured it all out yet, this is for you. If you think you know what’s next but want help focusing your plan, this is for you, too.

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Pursuit of Purpose Course

A one-credit interdisciplinary course designed to hone students’ personal sense of purpose, situate that ethos in the contemporary world of work, and provide practical steps for moving forward. In each seminar students will encounter enduring questions about what makes a life significant. The course then examines some of the broad social forces that structure professional and personal life, giving students purchase on what to expect as they move beyond the university. Finally, through guided reflection and practice, students will develop skills to better identify the work that they both love and matters beyond themselves.

The course, ETHICS 253S, carries Seminar, Ethical Inquiry, and Social Sciences course requirements.

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Mentored Summer Internships

Students who complete the Pursuit of Purpose course are eligible for continued support in the form of selective summer internships. Each summer internship cohort will regularly “meet” via group videoconference over the course of the summer to reflect and process as a group. Each intern will also be paired with a mentor to guide them through their experience. Since financial concerns sometimes make it harder for students to explore paths of interest, the internships are funded up to $3,000. The program will curate some possible opportunities, but students are welcome to find their own option.

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Fall Symposium

Upon returning to campus, Summer Internship recipients will share their experiences with the Duke community at an event in the fall. Participants will reflect on their own journeys, share wisdom gained along the way, and help challenge the campus to think seriously about purpose.

To apply for space in one of the spring Pursuit of Purpose seminars click here, or for more information contact Christian Ferney.