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Getting a Handle on Global Duke

Last year, Duke alumni lived in 162 countries, some of which were so unfamiliar to me that I wouldn’t have been able to find them on a map. Thousands of Duke faculty and staff members travel internationally each year, and Duke students—nearly half of whom study abroad—might even have that number beat.

The Duke community is exceptionally international, and the university’s global programs and partnerships are so numerous that it’s often a challenge to keep up.

Enter the Duke Global Baton

The Duke Global Baton is a collaborative photo project showcasing the Duke community’s travels, adventures and daily lives around the world, all in one place.

We recruited a virtual relay team of students, faculty, staff and alumni to “pass the baton” around the world, highlighting the university’s widespread global engagement.

Every two days, a new Blue Devil takes over the account. One day the account may be with a PhD student researching malaria in a remote Amazonian community, and the next with an alumni travel group searching for lemurs in Madagascar.

By Duke, for Duke

This project creates an inclusive space for Duke people to share their global experiences and allows the wider Duke community to see the world through the lens (literally) of their classmates, mentors, colleagues and friends.

Other Duke community members who are not part of the relay team are invited to contribute to this gallery of global experiences by using the hashtag #DukeIsEverywhere, and hundreds of people have done so throughout the summer.

With a diverse group of participants taking over the account from 31 countries in six continents, Duke people are able to see the huge range of international opportunities available to them at Duke.


  • Provide a one-stop look at a range of university activity.
  • Showcase Duke’s global activities in a visually engaging and emotionally compelling way.
  • Position Duke as a globally focused university.
  • Encourage engagement with the #DukeIsEverywhere hashtag.

Lessons Learned

  • Plan in advance, and have a backup if plans fall through.
  • Understand that giving up control over the account comes with risks, but also results in spontaneity and fresh voices.
  • Set clear guidelines.
  • Ask people why they want to participate to determine whether their goals are aligned with the campaign.
  • Engage an undergraduate to run the project; this year’s coordinator, Tamara Frances (Duke ‘18) brings enthusiasm for social media, knowledge of Duke, and familiarity with Instagram best practices to the table.

Our Accomplishments

By hiring a tech-savvy undergraduate to coordinate the account behind the scenes, collaborating and cross promoting with other social media campaigns on campus, designing digital flyers to promote the account at Duke, and launching a #DukeIsEverywhere photo contest, we’ve surpassed the 1,000 follower mark; represented more than 40 Duke schools, initiatives and programs; and engaged 54 participants to bring Duke Global to life.