“Tobacco.” Here in Durham, North Carolina, a town built on that fragrant leaf, it seemed like an appropriate theme to explore in CDS’s first audio institute in the summer of 2003. A capacity twenty-four participants attended Hearing Is Believing—taught by CDS audio director John Biewen and guest instructors Elizabeth Barret of Appalshop, indie radio producer Katie Davis, and Stephen Smith of American RadioWorks—and created short audio documentaries (tobacco related).

That course turned out to mark the launch of our Continuing Education program’s beloved annual summer institutes—intensive, typically weeklong immersions in a given subject, attended by students from around the world. In 2004, Hearing Is Believing was joined by an advanced audio institute—Making It Sing—as well as a Documentary Video Institute.

Those courses remain among the core offerings in our summer lineup, which over the past eleven years has expanded to include institutes for photography, nonfiction writing, and Literacy Through Photography, as well as an Intensive Introduction to Documentary Studies and an artists’ retreat. While the summer sessions afford serious work-and-play time—“like camp for grownups” one participant said—fall, winter, and spring get their due, with classes in the documentary arts throughout the year. Most are held on-site, but we have a growing, thriving slate of online classes and, two years ago, Continuing Education program director April Walton launched a distance-learning track for the Certificate in Documentary Arts. Check out all your options right here.