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Connecting Hip-Hop to community activism – 2024

Chicago, IL
Dates June 13 - August 8, 2024
Program Focus

Using Hip-Hop culture, literacy, and communications (policy briefs, social media, marketing, advertising, and multi-media production) as pedagogical approaches to engage youth and adults as agents of change in their communities.

Dates subject to change

Program Leaders
Program Themes
  • Arts
  • Education
  • Race & Ethnicity
  • Technology



Information Session:

  • Wednesday, October 18, 7:00 PM – Zoom link


Hip-Hop is a language that speaks to the hopes, dreams, struggles, and realities of diverse populations. The DukeEngage-Chicago program seeks to support community organizations in their efforts to teach students advocacy skills through alternative, culture rich programming that embeds the pillars of Hip-Hop.

Chicago’s South and West sides are richly diverse neighborhoods whose residents have been acutely affected by shifts in both financial and political economies. Local grassroots organizations are working each day to solve problems created by systemic inequality such as food mirages and swamps, equal access to quality public education, environmental challenges, and health care, in order to provide authentic avenues to address grievances. Music and the arts have always been a means of expression as they often mirror the reality of life in these communities.

Participants will gain an understanding, awareness and application of culturally relevant and abolitionist pedagogy through the lenses of critical race theory, intercultural competence, sociology, psychology, public policy, and Hip-Hop culture (self-reflection and movement) as a pedagogical approach to teaching and developing youth and community empowerment.

The majority of participants’ time will be spent developing and implementing projects through a culturally relevant lens that incorporates the 5 pillars of Hip-Hop.  They will receive hands-on experience in how music, the arts and culture influence identity, self-confidence in learning, and interpretation of the socio-political landscape around them. These experiences will develop and strengthen Duke students’ abilities to:

  • analyze and address complicated social issues; and
  • connect and apply knowledge from the DukeEngage experience to their area of study, using it to comprehend, analyze, and/or challenge existing theories and frameworks


Community Partnership(s)

DukeEngage students will participate in activities such as leading workshops/tutoring sessions, assisting with curriculum development, shadowing community activists and educators, participating in planning processes, mentoring, assisting with music production and engineering, community researching (interviewing, data collection, sample evaluation, etc.), youth organizing, and action research training. Activities may take place in a variety of environments (virtual, office/school setting, or outdoors), and the day-to-day work of the program may require that students interface with adults and youth (ages 10-18).

Potential community groups organizations may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Solidarity Studios
  • Children’s Museum of Art and Social Justice 
  • Inner City Muslim Action Network
  • Free Spirit Media


Program Requirements

Coursework: The following additional courses are helpful to have but not required. The program also seeks to engage students who are interested and/or have an affinity for the Arts (visual and performance).

  • EDUC 101: Historical and Philosophical Foundations in Education, EDUC 243: Children Schools and Society, EDUC 240: Educational Psychology, and EDUC 285S: The Critical Pedagogy of Hip-Hop.
  • PUBPOL 206S: Engaged Citizens/Social Change, PUBPOL 256: Social Innovation
  • AAAS 335: The History of Hip-Hop, AAAS 336: Michael Jackson and Performance of Blackness, AAAS 338: Popular Representations of Black Masculinity, AAAS 334: Sampling Soul, AAAS 324S: Social Facts and Narrative Representations, AAAS 310: African-American Women and History

Personal Qualities:

  • Flexibility: Your ability to focus, refocus, and adapt to changing situations.
  • Communication (auditory, oral, and written): Your ability to hear what people say and reflect on it.
  • Self-Motivation: Your ability to self-start, seek solutions to perceived challenges, and take a course of action.
  • Diplomacy: Your ability to share power, collaboratively make decisions, and ultimately be willing to accept the outcomes.
  • Creativity: Your ability to make something–anything–rather than break something down. When something is truly “creative,” it envisions an alternative and conjures an image of how things might be!
  • Intercultural Competence: Your ability to effectively manage the diversity around you, the diverse backgrounds, sensitivities and thoughts of others.



Housing, meals, and transportation: Students will reside in a university dorm (specific location TBD) and will receive a stipend to purchase food and prepare their own meals. DukeEngage will provide or arrange transportation to and from service placements and all scheduled program activities utilizing public transportation wherever feasible. Public transportation in Chicago is extensive and widely used by local residents and tourists and will be used by program participants to travel to and from work and most group activities.

Local safety, security, and cultural norms: If you have special needs related to health, culture, disability, or religious practices, we encourage you to contact the program director(s) or the DukeEngage office to discuss whether your needs can be accommodated in this program.

For guidance on how race, religion, sexual/gender identity, ability, or other aspects of identity might impact your travels, we suggest exploring the Diversity, Identity and Global Travel section of the DukeEngage website.



Academic Connections

This program is open to all, and might especially appeal to students taking courses in Education, Psychology, Visual Media Studies, the Performing Arts, English, Sociology and Business Marketing.

Ideally, this program would be one component of a cluster of experiences that students could explore regardless of their major. However, students who participate in this program might go on to pursue Education Minor and/or the Teacher Preparation Program (TPP), the Child Family Policy and/or Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate, a Bass Connections and/or Story Plus project, and a Thesis/Independent Research Project (with a focus on education, innovative teaching and learning, community engagement, African and African American Studies, non-profits, or urban city planning development).


Chicago program directors, students, and community partners

“Ultimately, the Duke Engage Chicago experience was one that I pursued purely out of personal curiosity and a desire to be exposed to the arts and hip hop in a way I had never been exposed to before. In that sense, my time in Chicago has been incredibly informative and enlightening, illuminating avenues through which hip hop and art in general can inspire and empower individuals to share their stories and speak on pressing social issues. However, my community partner placement played an integral role in making this overall journey a fulfilling one, as they focused on holistic well-being and health. Their view of human health aligned well with my own which elucidated clear applications of art as a means of fostering healing and health. As such, I would encourage people to participate in Duke Engage projects that simply appear interesting to them, as you never know how the topics you’re exposed to or learn about will relate to your other interests.”


Potential Program Cancellations

DukeEngage cannot guarantee that any program will occur. Programs may be cancelled for various reasons, including COVID considerations.