Duke in Alaska

Ecology & Biodiversity

New for Summer 2016!

May 31 - June 30, 2017

Duke’s Department of Biology and Global Education Office for Undergraduates (GEO) offer a four-week, one-course program focusing on the major-biomes, conservation issues, and human-environment interactions of Alaska. Alaska offers an outstanding venue for integrating science and the humanities. Students on the program will spend time in and gain familiarity with major environmental regions within the state: temperate rainforest of the southeastern Alaskan panhandle and the boreal forest as represented around Anchorage.



Program Prerequisite

There is no prerequisite for this summer program.

Courses and Credits

BIOLOGY 287A/ENVIRON 277A  Biodiversity of Alaska (NS, STS)
Taught by Dr. Jon Shaw. One course credit.

All students are enrolled in the core course, Biodiversity of Alaska. The structure of the program will include lectures/discussions, complemented by field trips and visits to museums and other cultural centers. While the program emphasizes ‘hands-on’ experiential learning about Alaskan plants and animals, the lecture component will focus on how biodiversity is studied in a scientific manner. Students are also given an introduction to cultural topics especially related to indigenous Alaskan natives and to the history of arctic exploration and the 1899 Klondike gold rush.  

No pass/fail option or auditing is permitted. Due to the intense nature of the program, late arrival and/or early departure will not be permitted.


The goal of this program is to introduce students to the major biomes, conservation issues, and human-environment interactions of Alaska.

The ultimate educational objectives for this program are both factual and conceptual. Students will learn the major habitats/biotic communities of Alaska and the dominant plants and animals making up those communities. On the conceptual level, the major goal is to “think scientifically”; i.e., to assess evidence and make justifiable conclusions from that evidence, with care to avoid conclusions not warranted by the evidence. Students will come away with knowledge about the conceptual underpinnings of conservation biology, the structure of biotic communities, and the evolution of biodiversity. Understanding the relationship of Alaskan humans to other plants and animals is an important conceptual goal.



Dates: May 31 - July 30, 2017

The program is field-oriented and will travel to various sites around Alaska including the cities of Juneau, Seward, and Anchorage.

Final itinerary and schedule will be made available to students during the pre-departure orientation. 


Students stay in dorms at the University of Alaska-Anchorage and University of Alaska, Southeast (Juneau) in addition to hotels during program excursions.

Meals in Juneau and Anchorage will be through the university meal services and will be included in the program fee.


Summer 2016

Estimates are based on previous years’ programs and the current exchange rate. All costs are subject to change.

  Duke Students Non-Duke Students
Tuition $3,29100 $3,291.00
Program Fee $3,900.00 $3,900.00
Transcript Fee N/A $40.00
Other Costs Other Costs Other Costs
TOTAL (Estimated) TBD TBD


Program Fee

Included in Program Fee

The program fee for this program includes: 

  • Accommodations
  • Most meals 
  • International SOS Coverage
  • Program-sponsored activities and excursions
  • On-site orientation program
  • Access to educational facilities at host university
  • Internet and wifi access at university dormitories

Not Included in Program Fee

Use the following list to assist with budgeting for expenses outside the program fee. This list contains common examples but should not be considered exhaustive.

The program fee does not include: 

  • Airfare
  • On-site accident and health insurance policy
  • Out-of-pocket medical expenses
  • Outdoor gear and supplies 
  • Access to activities such as sports, lectures, social gatherings, etc. at host university
  • Textbooks and class materials
  • Mobile phone
  • Independent travel and entertainment
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Incidentals

Personal Spending

Personal expenses can fluctuate greatly depending upon habits and preferences of the individual. It’s also wise to budget for unexpected expenses such as medical emergencies.

Payment Due Dates

Step 1: Within 2 weeks of acceptance to the program, submit the Summer Participation Agreement found in your MyGlobalEd application to confirm your enrollment. A parent/guardian’s co-signature is required. This form takes the place of a deposit.

NOTE: If you withdraw after March 31, you will be charged a cancellation fee of $1,500 for this 1-credit program.  

Step 2: Summer invoices will be sent via email to your Duke email address and home email address. Remit payment to the Bursar per due date and address indicated on your online statement. All financial arrangements involving Duke University must be completed prior to departure for the program.

Duke Bursar’s Office

Financial Aid

Duke students receiving financial aid are eligible for aid for this program (work-study funds must be converted to loans). Students are individually responsible for making the necessary arrangements with the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid and the Bursar. Non-Duke students are not eligible to receive financial aid at Duke and should contact their home institutions for financial aid information. 

Duke Financial Aid Office

Duke Bursar’s Office


For information on this program, please contact the Faculty Director of Duke in Alaska, Prof. Jon Shaw, or the Global Education Office.

Prof. Jon Shaw (Department of Biology)
Email: shaw@duke.edu 
Tel: (919) 660-7344

Global Education Office for Undergraduates
Smith Warehouse
Bay 6, 2nd Floor
114 S. Buchanan Blvd.
Box 90057
Durham, NC 27708-0057
Tel: 919-684-2174, Fax: 919-684-3083

Jonathan Shaw

Professor of Biology


Apply Now

The application deadline for Duke in Alaska has been extended to February 15.

Students applying to the Duke in Alaska summer 2017 program should submit the following to the Global Education Office. This program has rolling admission. Applications must be submitted no later than February 1, 2017:

  1. Online application
  2. Official transcript(s) from all colleges and universities attended.
  3. Personal statement, no longer than one page, explaining why you would like to participate on this program
  4. Academic letter of recommendation (one)

This program is open to all majors and applicants from all accredited colleges and universities.

Non-Duke Applicants: Non-Duke students must be degree-seeking students in good standing at an accredited college or university. Students who are not matriculated at a college or university are not eligible to participate in study away on Duke’s programs.

In order to transfer credit for the courses, they must consult their advisor and/or registrar.

Applications received after the application deadline will be processed on a space-available basis.

GEO policy for graduating seniors who wish to apply for a Duke summer study abroad/away program:

Students must be active, matriculated students in order to participate in any Duke-in summer programs, including Duke’s domestic summer programs. All program courses must be taken for graded credit. If seniors plan to graduate in May of the year they plan to study abroad in the summer, they will not be eligible to participate on any of our summer programs unless they receive approval from their academic dean at Duke to delay their graduation until after the summer program has ended.

Non-Duke students planning to graduate in May in the year they plan to study abroad in the summer must provide approval to delay their graduation until after the summer program has ended from the appropriate official at their home institution. Such approval must be furnished in writing to GEO before the student will be allowed to participate in the summer program. This approval may be sent via email to the appropriate program assistant at GEO.  

Duke students who defer their graduation to participate in study abroad should consult with their financial aid advisor in the Duke Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid to determine whether they are eligible for a summer aid package and/or a GEO summer scholarship.