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Student-Led Hurston-James Society Revamps in 2012-2013

This academic year has been a particularly exciting time for the Hurston-James Society, which serves graduate students of color in the humanities and social sciences. The Society was established in the 1990s to provide a discussion forum for professional development topics and academically relevant social issues. It gave graduate students in a variety of departments an opportunity to engage in conversations about their research and teaching in a supportive environment. The Hurston-James Society became inactive for a period, but the need for a collaborative social and intellectual space for graduate students of color in the humanities and social sciences persisted. In Spring 2012, students worked with the Graduate School to help re-activate the Hurston-James Society. These efforts resulted in several successful initiatives in Fall 2012.

Recognizing that many undergraduates in the humanities and social sciences are unfamiliar with the work of graduate students in their fields, the Society began the semester with its Mentor-Mentee Program, which helped make connections between graduate and undergraduate students at Duke. Later in the semester, the Hurston-James Society organized a Fellowship Workshop in which professors provided feedback to graduate students applying for Ford Fellowships. The highlight of the semester was the Hurston-James Society Alumni Luncheon, during which two founders and early members of the Society, Dr. Jennifer Morgan and Dr. Matthew Countryman, spoke with current members about their time as Duke graduate students, their current work, and their experiences establishing the Hurston-James Society. Their enlivening conversation was an inspiring commemoration of a new stage for the Society. As part of its continued engagement with the campus community this Spring, the Hurston-James Society is offering its support to graduate student events in celebration of the 50 Anniversary of Integration at Duke.