The number of active departmental undergraduate groups has increased from 24 to 49 since July 2009. According to the Plan for Academic Enrichment's October 2010 status report, administrators have worked to strengthen "the number and effectiveness of student department undergraduate groups by developing websites, guidelines and coordination with concentration advisers."
A 50th DUG — for the Center for Language Studies — is in the works, Besenia Rodriguez, associate dean of the college for research and upperclass studies, wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.
For many students, DUGs are a way of getting more involved in their concentration and studies.
"For bigger concentrations, they can be a great way to ensure that the students get to know each other and get more actively involved in their field, especially as it relates to Brown and its population," Aida Manduley '11, co-leader of the gender and sexuality studies DUG, wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.
Jacob Combs '11, leader of the English DUG, also said the group allowed students in the department to meet each other outside of class.
"Besides the fact that we're all students and scholars, we're people too. In English, we love reading and we love talking about books. The English DUG provides a discussion space for this," he said. "It's a great way to get people out of the classroom and into an environment where you don't have things like class participation or grades."
Every year, both active and inactive DUGs are required to submit a request for funding for the year from the Dean of the College's office, which includes a budget and a list of upcoming activities.
A DUG is considered active if it has at least one student leader, support from the department in the form of a faculty advisor and at least two events per semester, Rodriguez wrote. Each DUG is eligible for $500 of funding from the Dean of the College's office to match $500 of departmental funding.
Rodriguez wrote that she and Ryan Lester '11, the DUG coordinator, have been contacting the handful of departments that do not yet have DUGs. "In some cases, faculty have suggested proactive students who we've contacted to spearhead DUG creation or revitalization efforts."Combs said he is focused on increasing student awareness of the English DUG.
"There are announcements in classes to tell you about things going on within the DUG," he said. "We work with professors to spread the word about what we do. It's a lot of e-mailing and a lot of social networking."
The main purpose of DUGs is to increase student-faculty interactions outside the classroom and to help connect students with fellow concentrators, faculty and alums.
"DUGs create additional opportunities for these types of less formal interactions," Rodriguez wrote. "Brown students are incredibly resourceful and proactive, and DUGs provide a vehicle for them to create disciplinary-specific activities that help build community and provide valuable resources for concentrators."
"The goal is to enhance the sense of community in each concentration by providing some funding … so that students can invite guest lecturers, organize panel discussions and hold other events that might be of interest to concentrators," she wrote.
Rodriguez gave examples of language DUGs that have hosted film series and lunches in the Sharpe Refectory where only Spanish or Portuguese is spoken. She added that other DUGs have hosted alumni and faculty lectures, student research presentations and panel sessions on finding internships or getting into graduate school.
Besides being a good way to meet faculty and fellow concentrators, involvement in a DUG allows students to "sort of take the reins of programming that is directly involved with recruiting people into the concentration," Manduley wrote."For people unsure about concentrating, getting in touch with a DUG and its people can help them make a decision — the concentration finally has a set of faces attached to it, and those people can discuss the intricacies of a concentration more in depth."