Departments in Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

African and African American Studies

Researchers in the African & African American Studies department encompass anthropologists, economists, performance artists, literary critics, political scientists, philosophers, sociologists, historians, and art historians. Scholarly teams explore music, cultural studies, film, performance, popular culture, gender, sexuality, race, public policy and law to reveal the experiences and perspectives of those of African descent and to theorize and historicize racism, sexism, classism, homophobia and other markers of difference. Some scholars concentrate on Africa and the African diaspora in the Atlantic World examining the dynamics of race and African culture outside of the U.S.

See also the North Carolina Central University-Duke Program in African, African American & Diaspora Studies, which fosters collaboration between NCCU and Duke students, sponsors jointly taught courses, a lecture series and more.

Air Force ROTC

The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is a commissioning program for the U.S. Air Force that emphasizes aerospace defense studies, leadership and management, communications skills and professional knowledge. The academic program focuses on air and space power through a historical perspective, Air Force mission organization and customs, military management fundamentals, and national security process and advanced leadership ethics.


The Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is a commissioning program for the U.S. Army that emphasizes academic scholarship, athletic ability and leadership. The academic program emphasizes military science; team building and leadership development; and advanced military tactics, logistics and decision-making.

Art, Art History and Visual Studies

The Art, Art History & Visual Studies department is a celebrated program nationally, and emphasizes scholarship around the historical and theoretical study of art and architecture; the practice and performance of the arts; and exploring visual arts, technology and digital media as an interface for humanities, law, social science and the natural sciences. Faculty expertise spans European and North American art, African and African Diaspora art, and East Asian and Latin American art. Scholarship examines crosscutting societal themes such as folklore, photography and filmmaking, the visual culture of disaster, religious visual culture, the expression of nationalism, and caricature and popular culture.

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Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

The Asian and Middle Eastern Studies department explores Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, and Korean culture through the lens of language and literature; social movements, nationalism and diaspora; popular culture and the media; gender, visuality and feminism; film theory, cinema and aesthetics; and the implications of religion on identity and globalization. The faculty offers language programs in Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Persian and Sanskrit.

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Research in the Biology department spans virtually all levels at which life can be studied, encompassing animal behavior, cellular, developmental and molecular biology; ecology and ecosystems; evolution, transmission genetics and evolutionary genetics; organismal biology and functional genomics; and systematics. Many faculty members weave some aspect of molecular biology and evolution into solving problems in the life sciences while some focus on answering questions in ecology and climate change. Specializations include mechanisms of plant pathogen interactions and root development; the molecular basis of motor protein function and their role in morphogenesis and cancer; the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases; animal behavior in primates, birds, and reptiles; gene regulatory networks in model systems; the molecular mechanisms of species formation; animal and plant systematics; how genotype maps to phenotype; bioinformatics; psychobiology and philosophy of biology; and experimental ecosystem modeling systems, among others.

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Research in the Chemistry department encompasses the fields of analytical, biochemical, inorganic, organic and physical chemistry with a highly interdisciplinary focus. Research themes include biomolecular structure and function; inorganic and organic chemical synthesis; theoretical and computational methods for predicting and modeling molecular structure and function; the development of new instruments and methods for measurement and analysis; and an exploration of nanoscience and materials.

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Classical Studies

The faculty in the Classical Studies department teach and study the history, art, archaeology, languages and literatures of the ancient Greek and Roman world. Research encompasses Greek poetry and religion; Roman women, feminist theory, and gender and identity in antiquity; economic analyses of land use, banking and civic finance, and the economics of the Greek and Roman religion; early medieval homiletics, monastic culture and Greek, Roman and early Christian political and moral philosophy; classical and Mediterranean archaeology and material culture; ancient rhetoric and literary criticism, scholia and historiography; ancient music, dramatic literature and performance studies; and all aspects of Greek and Roman literature.

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Computer Science

Research in the Computer Science department encompasses the theory, substrate, and applications of computation, as well as the organization and communication of information. Faculty research is highly interconnected with the disciplines of mathematics, statistics, engineering, nanotechnology, biology, biochemistry, medicine, economics, sociology, and the environmental sciences, and includes theory, modeling, combinatorial and numerical algorithms, architectures, systems, applications, and pedagogy.

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Cultural Anthropology

Research in the Cultural Anthropology department explores the human condition through the lens of cultural heritage and practice. Faculty scholarship encompasses topics such as ethnic national identity, citizenship and transnationality; gender and sexuality; social movements, activism and extremism; urban anthropology, globalization and alternative modernity; slavery, colonization, migration and diaspora; power, belief, and religious movements; law, governance, politics, racism and democracy; medicine and chronic illness; and popular culture and the politics of memory. Regions of research specialization include Japan, U.S., Brazil, Nigeria, Benin Republic, Cuba Trinidad, Jamaica, Mesoamerica, Africa, China, and India.

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Faculty in the Department of Dance are internationally-recognized choreographers, scholars, teachers and performers committed to offering the highest caliber dance training and scholarship in an atmosphere that fosters conscious embodied practice, critical thinking, and creative risk-taking. Far-ranging exploration and expertise encompasses historical and contemporary African American and Afro-Carribean dance, music and religious practices; classical and contemporary Indian dance and dance theater; ballet and modern, post-modern and contemporary dance choreography and performance. Research also examines topics such as age and dance artistry, the role of gender in performance, performance and social change, and embodied forms of spirituality. The program is involved in cutting-edge experimentation around the intersection of dance with new technologies, and the interdisciplinary conference initiative Across the Threshold: Creativity, Being & Healing.

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Documentary Studies

The Center for Documentary Studies was the first institution in the U.S. dedicated solely to the rich legacy and continuing practice of the documentary tradition in the American experience. The CDS  aims to bridge university and off-campus communities and experiences through the pursuit of the documentary arts, with an emphasis on the role of individual artistic expression in advancing broader societal goals. The Center offers a range of undergraduate and continuing education course offerings alongside numerous wide-ranging public arts endeavors.


The Economics department is rapidly approaching the top ten programs nationally.  It is broadly focused on econometrics, micro- and macro-economic theory, and applied economics, with distinctive collaborations across these boundaries. Faculty research encompasses the broad fields of finance, international trade, development, public sector studies, law, business and monetary economics, with specialized scholarship focused on environmental and ecological economics, cultural, agricultural and natural resource economics, education, racial inequality, and labor and economic demography.

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Ranked among the top ten English departments in the country, we work in different historical periods and national political contexts. Our faculty shows how various literatures in English make or fail to make a coherent world out of the conflicts and contradictions that characterize a genre, an author, or a moment in literary history. Our Medievalists pursue such concepts as forgiveness, reform, protest, and gender difference across the line traditionally separating the Middle Ages from the Early Modern periods. Faculty interested in the eighteenth century might consider how Jane Austen redefines notions of sympathy and happiness for a purely secular world. Refusing to let the Romantic poets live in a self-created world of imagination, other scholars examine how these writers adapted the scientific theories of that moment to rethink man’s place in the natural world. So, too, in reading Dickens or George Eliot, faculty examine how new theories of evolution and breakthroughs in physics altered the landscape in which characters live out far from exemplary lives.  Perhaps one of the strongest groups of its kind in the country, our specialists in African American literature and culture work at the intersection of the arts, law, literature, and sexuality studies. American literature at Duke is known for interdisciplinary scholarship that brings such fields as medicine, science, ethnic studies and theories of diaspora into conversation with literature. In using poetry and fiction to imagine worlds, formulate a voice, and position a virtual self within that world, our creative writers contribute a vital element to this collective endeavor. In recent years, faculty from several of these areas have joined our modernists and post-colonialists in searching the literary and cultural past for answers to a new set of questions: When did globalization begin? Which elements of contemporary culture become international, which remain local? What does it mean to be a citizen of such a world?

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Evolutionary Anthropology

Research in the Evolutionary Anthropology department focuses on understanding non-human primate and human biology in an evolutionary context. Areas of research include paleoanthropology; phylogenetic relationships between living and extinct primates; functional and adaptive comparative primate anatomy; evolutionary genomics; and primate ecology, behavior, cognition and physiology.

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Germanic Languages and Literature

Research in the German Languages & LIterature department spans German ethics, intellectual history, theory and philosophy; literary history and criticism, including an analysis of memoir, medieval and 18th through 20th century literature, Holocaust literature and German poetics; broad cultural studies of German realism, modernism, gender, and religion and secularization; and expression through modern German drama. Duke is also known for its innovative and highly ranked joint PhD in German Studies with UNC-Chapel Hill.

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Health, Wellness and Physical Education

The Department of Health, Wellness and Physical Education (HWPE) provides academic opportunities to students through a wide variety and diverse collection of course offerings in both activity and lecture based theory classes.


The History department is among the top programs nationally. Faculty research encompasses intellectual, legal, medical and military history; politics, public life and governance; labor and working class history; gender, race and ethnicity studies; global transnational history and comparative colonial studies; religion and social movements; and an emphasis in medieval and early modern history. Regional specializations include early North America, Antebellum U.S., Modern America, Afro-America, American South, Latin America, Africa, Europe, British Empire, South Asia, Japan, China, Russia, and the French Caribbean and the Atlantic World.

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The Linguistics Program is a unique inter-disciplinary program offering undergraduate classes, majors and minors, and honors thesis supervision. The program draws on faculty expertise from across the university to provide an education which is both deep and broad. Particular research and teaching strengths include language and the brain (neurolinguistics), language change (historical linguistics), language and society (sociolinguistics) and language and politics. Linguistics majors are able to analyze and use language effectively, but they also develop excellent problem-solving, pattern-recognition and critical thinking skills that are highly valued in the job and graduate school markets. Many students go on to law or medical school, or other post-graduate training; others successfully pursue careers in a variety of fields including the media, advertising and marketing, finance, and education.

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The Literature department is unique in its makeup and a national leader in the theory, philosophy and politics of literature and media conceptualized within a global and postcolonial framework. Faculty exploration of language, literature and aesthetics also incorporates history, political economy, cultural sociology and anthropology, visual culture and cinema studies. Areas of specialization include American, French, Latin American, British, Italian and African literature; the literature of science, technology and law; philology and analytical philosophy; history of poetry, critical theory and philosophy; literature of women writers, phenomenology, racism, and gender and sexuality studies; history of theater, film theory and cinema aesthetics; and the literature of social movements, popular culture and globalization.

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Research in the Department of Mathematics spans theoretical to applied mathematics. Faculty interests encompass applied analysis, differential equations, integrable systems, harmonic analysis, multiscale analysis, probability and stochastic analysis, scientific computing, mathematical biology (including systems biology, evolutionary biology, mathematical physiology, cell biology); fluid dynamics; computational geometry and topology; differential, algebraic, and symplectic geometry; geometric measure theory and analysis; topology; string theory and general relativity; game theory.

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The Music department is a unique mixture of musicologists, composers, performers and ethnomusicologists, with scholarship encompassing music theory, history, ethnomusicology, composition, directing and performance. Research emphasizes the exploration of song, dance, theater and melodrama, oral tradition, music in film, and musical performance. Such work expands our understanding of specific cultures and historical periods, the role of arts in human rights expression, the politics of music production, and creativity and the music learning process. Faculty specializations include diverse genre such as Bebop and Hard Bop, Jazz music, Iberian keyboard, German opera and baroque sacred music, chamber ensemble and French musical culture, British music from liturgical to Pop culture, and post-19th century composition.

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The Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is a commissioning program for the U.S. Navy emphasizing naval science, physical competence, and leadership. The academic program encompasses naval orientation, seapower and maritime affairs, naval leadership and management, naval ship systems, navigation and naval operations, naval tactical systems, and leadership and management.


The Philosophy department is one of the most distinguished programs nationally, with recognized expertise in the areas of philosophy of biology; philosophy of mind; political philosophy; applied ethics; philosophy of social science; Chinese philosophy, and 17th-18th century philosophy. Areas of scholarship extend into the history and philosophy of science, including moral psychology and cognitive science; the philosophy of law, language and logic; metaphysics, conscious experience and self-knowledge; the history of philosophy from ancient to modern times; and the philosophy and methodology of economics.

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Research in the Physics Department ranges from astrophysics to condensed matter physics and nanoscale materials exploration, to non-linear and complex systems and biological physics with applications for medicine, energy and environmental science. Faculty conducts highly collaborative international research in high-energy physics; accelerator-based experimental nuclear physics; theoretical nuclear and particle physics; explorations of geometric and theoretical physics; and experimental quantum optical physics.

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Political Science

The Political Science department has been among the top ten programs nationally for many years. Its faculty contributes to the general fields of political economy, philosophy, institutions including law, and public policy. Specific research applies political theory, criticism and quantitative and qualitative methods to fundamental questions of behavior and identities; political parties and institutions; and political communication. Philosophical inquiries explore religion and politics, including humanism, existentialism, and German idealism. Comparative politics includes topics on international relations, security, peace and conflict, and urban and racial politics with an emphasis on the politics and political thought of America and Western Europe, but also coverage of Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.

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Psychology and Neuroscience

The Department of Psychology and Neuroscience is internationally known for leadership in cognitive science and clinical psychology. Research in the fields of developmental psychology, social and personality psychology, cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, and systems and integrative neuroscience deploy techniques such as experimental research with humans and animals, surveys, longitudinal field studies, brain imaging, genetic mapping and computational models. Scholarly exploration addresses topics in decision-making, self-concept and self-regulation, post traumatic stress disorder, health and behavior, achievement and motivation, emotional memory, language acquisition and visual perception, to name just a few.

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Trinity College of Arts & Sciences faculty are broadly engaged in neuroscience research and education, with particularly strong affiliation with the interdisciplinary Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. Our undergraduate program in neuroscience offers an interdisciplinary major/minor that draws faculty and courses from many individual departments, chiefly the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and the Department of Biology. Administrative support for this curriculum is provided by TCA&S and the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. Graduate programs encompass the graduate admitting program in Cognitive Neuroscience, and doctoral programs in Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience and Systems and Integrative Neuroscience.     

Religious Studies

The Religious Studies department is very distinguished nationally, and explores the social organization and impact of religion in ancient and modern cultures through critical theory, literary and visual studies, and religious expression and influence on the media. Areas of expertise include early the foundational documents of Judaism and Christianity (Hebrew Bible and New Testament); the religious traditions of Late Antiquity; Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism both in their historical depth and in their contemporary manifestations. Along with exploring theoretical questions surrounding religion, the multiple religious traditions of the present-day American landscape are studied in culture, law and contemporary thought.

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Romance Studies

Duke Romance Studies is a national leader for having integrated the study of literature and language. Research themes encompass language study and linguistics including comparative studies, translation, travel narratives and transculturally; an exploration of film, media, visual studies and literary analysis; urban and space studies with an emphasis on modernity and modernism; and culture specific studies of gender, feminism and queer expression. The department supports majors and minors in French, Spanish, and Italian.

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Slavic and Eurasian Studies

The Slavic and Eurasian Studies department offers broad course coverage of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian languages, literatures and cultures, and specializes courses on Russia, Poland, Romania and Turkey. Faculty research encompasses native language study; literature in translation; linguistics; literary and cultural criticism; performing arts, theater and film studies; women’s and gender studies; international comparative studies and politics, markets and legal studies; nationalism and ethnic studies; trauma, memory and justice; and visual arts.

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The Sociology department is ranked among the top 12 and rapidly approaching the top ten programs in the country. Faculty specializes in comparative and historical sociology; population studies across time focusing on fertility, migration, morbidity and mortality; medical and economic sociology; social stratification; and the sociology of morality and religion. Quantitative and qualitative approaches are deployed to understand the structure and dynamics of human societies, particularly in a global context; the formal organization and social implications of health care policy, infectious and chronic illness patterns and social epidemiology; society as structured by race, education, occupations, markets and economic organizations; social networks, personality and group processes; and how religion shapes and is shaped by organizations, subcultures and demographic composition.

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Statistical Science

The Department of Statistical Science is the premier Bayesian statistics program in the world, among the very top programs nationally in research productivity, and a leader in interdisciplinary applications of computational and statistical research. Faculty scholarship encompasses computational biology and statistical genetics; computer simulation and analysis for natural and engineering science applications; forecast modeling and monitoring statistical analysis for environmental and ecological science applications; macro-economic and financial time series analysis for social and economic science applications.

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Theater Studies

Theater Studies combines the study of the history and theory of theater, performance and dramatic literature in all its dimensions. In addition, the department is a laboratory for the development of new dramatic works and the exploration and integration of new media in theater. Faculty research encompasses set and lighting design; directing, playwriting, TV writing, dramatic literature, acting and puppetry; performance and film studies; literary and cultural criticism, and theater history with specialization in areas such as Chinese theater, Russian theater, and British and American theater.

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Women´s Studies

Women’s Studies is a highly interdisciplinary venue for exploring gender identities and relations through the study of practices, theories and institutions. Faculty scholarship encompasses historical, political, literary, philosophical, economic, representational, technological, sociological and scientific analyses. Research themes include the social impacts of the intersectionality of gender, race and class; sexuality and reproductive ethics; food politics and alternative approaches to economics; women’s writing and feminism in contemporary art; ecofeminism, ethics and human rights; religion and psychoanalysis; identity and subjectivity in the Arab world; Anglo and Francophone literature; and feminist theory.

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