Curricular Resource Center

Departmental Undergraduate Groups (DUGs)

A Departmental Undergraduate Group (DUG) is a group of concentrators that plans events and activities to build a sense of community within the concentration.

Role of DUGs

“DUG” stands for Departmental Undergraduate Group, but nowadays, this is admittedly a misnomer. In the past, Departmental Undergraduate Groups were attached to departments at Brown (hence the name). However, not all concentrations and undergraduate educational offerings are housed in departments; some concentrations exist as standalone programs or are part of divisions, institutes, or centers, and some academic units offer multiple concentrations (the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, for instance, houses seven undergraduates concentrations as of 2020).

In most cases, today's DUGs are attached to a concentration (such as Linguistics or Portuguese and Brazilian Studies), although some DUGs represent multiple concentrations that are related (for example, the Mathematics DUG has usually also represented the concentrations in Mathematics-Computer Science and Mathematics-Economics). Occasionally, DUGs are attached to tracks within concentrations (such as Ecology and Evolutionary Biology). Finally, some DUGs represent the academic units themselves (such as the Center for Language Studies or Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences).

Find or Become a DUG Leader

DUGs help students make and strengthen connections with other concentrators, professors, and concentrator alums; provide a means for first- and second-year students to explore the concentrations; and enable concentrators to explore high-impact learning opportunities as juniors/seniors, and career pathways related to their field(s) of study.

Each DUG must have an advisor, usually the DUS of the concentration, who advises DUG leaders on types of engagement. The advisor helps DUG leaders navigate the academic unit as necessary. Perhaps most importantly, the DUG advisor must sponsor the DUG’s funding proposal as a condition of funding approval.

DUG Program Overall Learning Goals

  • Facilitate building relationships among prospective concentrators, current concentrators, and faculty within a concentration.
  • Provide meaningful academic and personal experiences through diverse and innovative student-centered programming.
  • Coordinate opportunities for DUG leaders to meet one another.

DUG Events

DUGs organize events ranging from study breaks for concentrators, meals or teas with faculty members, field trips to relevant sites (such as museums or documentary screenings), panels with guest speakers, workshops with alumni, capstone/thesis celebrations, movie nights, and more.

Some ideas for in-person or virtual events or community-building activities include: 

  • meet-and-greets with faculty
  • guided tours of department-affliated spaces (e.g., libraries or museums) or research labs
  • career event with alums
  • an event for pre-concentrators
  • raffle prizes such as journals or books by faculty in the concentration

Additionally, most concentrations expect that a member of the DUG will be at their table for the Concentration Fair for sophomores.

Concentration Declaration Day

Concentration Declaration Day (CDD) is a ceremonial strategy for celebrating an important milestone in the life of every Brown undergraduate: Declaring a concentration and formally joining an academic community.

Since 2016, dozens of concentrations have hosted a CDD event in April or May. You may want to consider collaborating with other concentrations; for example, the "Watson Concentrations" have hosted a joint event.

CDD events have ranged in their format (casual drop-in or formal program with speakers). However you choose to run it, your event should focus on bringing together new concentrators, professors, and upperclassmen for one-on-one mixing a mingling, and giving new concentrators a chance to learn more about pathways for engagement within the concentration (research opportunities, seminars, etc.).

Peer Advising

Although DUGs are not officially expected to be subject-specific peer advisors, the role of DUGs in fostering academic communities and connecting students to academic units/programs of study will naturally lend itself to peer advising, and the vast majority of DUG leaders enjoy peer advising. Moreover, academic advisors, deans, and peer advisors (including us the CRC!) often mention DUG leaders as a resource for concentrators and non-concentrators.

Many DUGs hold advising events during pre-registration and/or shopping periods, and DUG leaders will usually join the DUS/faculty at concentration fairs and other events that promote concentration. So, while DUG leaders are not expected to participate in peer advising, we hope that DUG leaders will consider doing so.

Contact the DUG leaders of the group you are interested in getting involved. If your concentration does not have a DUG and you are interested in starting one, please contact your Director of Undergraduate Studies and or feel free to contact CRC Director & Associate Dean of the College Peggy Chang.

To all other students: If you are interested in a subject or an academic unit, feel free to contact a DUG leader. More likely than not, they will respond to you. They will be happy to help, whether you are a concentrator, prospective concentrator, or someone simply interested in taking a few classes in the corresponding discipline.


Related Information

A DUG needs at least one student leader working with a faculty member (DUG sponsor) and the academic department's manager/coordinator.
DUGs that require funding must apply for it through the Curricular Resource Center; part of that application process includes a mandatory training/orientation session. DUGs generally receive half of their funding from the CRC and the other half funding from their academic unit.