Duke Divinity School is a Christian community shaped by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While we do not expect members of other faith traditions to share the theological framework out of which this covenant was developed, we welcome into our community anyone who is willing to live and work under the standards of conduct specified herein.

Read the Conduct Convenant in PDF form in the Divinity School Bulletin.

The Conduct Covenant for Duke Divinity School

We, the faculty and students in the Divinity School of Duke University, make covenant, individually and corporately, to uphold the highest standards of personal and academic integrity. This includes, but is not limited to, never lying, cheating, stealing, causing harm to self or others, or defacing property. Set aside by our calling, we hold ourselves and each other to the highest standards of conduct.

As a Divinity School committed to forming and educating persons for the ministry of Jesus Christ, we covenant together to embody truth in every aspect of our lives, including our academic work and all forms of speech. In joyful obedience to Christ, we gratefully involve our bodies, minds, and spirits in this community of discipline and love, recognizing that we are a people called to worship God by the Spirit of truth.

Covenant Keeping

Introduction: Breaches of community covenants are grievous matters, both to the individuals concerned and to the community as a whole. To encourage covenant faithfulness, the Divinity School conduct covenant tries to be explicit in describing the kind of attitude and behavior that honors the distinctive nature of the Divinity School. The Divinity School will work to make students aware of our covenant together from the beginning of their academic program.

Pastoral Process: The response of the community to both alleged and confirmed fractures of our covenant will be guided by pastoral concerns. In this instance pastoral denotes reconciling, restorative, healing. At times we can be reconciling, restorative and healing simply through sharing, listening sympathetically and responding with forgiveness and understanding. In other instances reconciliation, restoration to the community and healing of person and community can occur only through confession, an attitude of penance and penitential acts indicating remorse, contrition, and a desire to learn from one’s errors. Members of the covenant community who are aggrieved by the conduct of other members of the community should find a friend and approach the offending party to work out the misunderstanding or offense (Matthew 18:15-20). However, because of their gravity, matters related to theft, abuse of property (including academic property), or fraud should be brought directly to the academic dean for address and resolution following the judicial procedures described below. As members of a covenant community, all persons have a moral obligation to report breaches of the covenant.

Judicial Procedures: The judicial process hereinafter described is constituted for the Divinity School community as required by the Judicial System of Duke University and the university’s rubric on student life. It conforms to and functions within those larger structures (see The Duke Community Standard in Practice: A Guide for Undergraduates).

When grievances are brought to the academic dean, the following processes will be implemented:

  • Faculty accused of covenant violation will be subject to the policies and procedures of the currently effective Duke University Faculty Handbook.
  • Students accused of covenant violation may elect (1) to authorize the academic dean to initiate an informal process to resolve the accusation and apply any indicated disciplines, or (2) to authorize the academic dean to initiate a formal process involving fellow students, faculty and administration who will attempt to determine whether there has been a violation and take appropriate pastoral action.
  • Informal Process: Under this procedure the person bringing the accusation, the accused, the academic dean, and whomever the academic dean deems appropriate will work to review the facts of the offense. The academic dean will decide on guilt or innocence, the Divinity School’s response to it and any indicated discipline.
  • Formal Process: Under this process (operated in conformity with The Duke Community Standard in Practice: A Guide for Undergraduates), alleged offense(s) will be reviewed by the Divinity School Conduct Board, composed of the academic dean (who will serve as chair of the board), an appointed staff member, three students (with a fourth student designated as an alternate), and two faculty members (with a third faculty or staff member designated as an alternate). This committee will review the grievance, dismiss it or admit it, and decide on any action to be taken in response to it.
  • In either the informal or formal processes, the student who is the subject of a complaint or accusation will be fully informed of his/her rights and the grievance(s) brought against him/her, given ample opportunity to respond and be assured s/he will be heard fully, fairly and in Christian charity. Proceedings under both (1) and (2) should be held in strictest confidence by all parties concerned. Disciplinary measures, depending on the severity of the offense, may include but not be limited to required counseling, a mandated leave of absence for a term or terms, failure of a course, and suspension or expulsion from the Divinity School.

Judicial Procedures for Matters of Academic Misconduct: Matters relating to academic misconduct (including cheating and plagiarism) should be brought directly to the academic dean for address and resolution following the processes described below. As members of a covenant community, all persons have a moral obligation to report instances of academic misconduct.

  • Administrative Hearing: Most cases are decided upon through an administrative hearing, which is a discussion between the student alleged to be in violation of a university policy, professor of the course (in which the alleged violation occurred), and academic dean. The student will be notified (typically by email) of the specific violation under consideration in advance of the administrative hearing. The academic dean will review the complaint with the student and give the student an opportunity to respond. The academic dean, in consultation with the professor of the course, will determine whether the student is responsible for the alleged policy violation and, if so, issue (an) appropriate sanction(s). Administrative hearings are conducted in private and are strictly confidential.
  • If the student is deemed to be in violation and accepts responsibility and agrees to the proposed sanction(s), the student waives the right to appeal, the resolution becomes final, and the outcome is recorded on the student’s disciplinary record.
  • If the student is deemed to be in violation and the student accepts responsibility, but is unable to agree to the proposed sanction(s), the case will be forwarded to a Divinity Judicial Board hearing.
  • If the student is deemed to be in violation and the student denies responsibility, the case will be forwarded to a Divinity Judicial Board hearing.
  • Divinity Judicial Board Hearing: The Divinity Judicial Board is a panel of faculty and staff appointed to hear cases of academic misconduct. It is composed of the academic dean (who will serve as chair of the board), an appointed staff member, and two appointed faculty members (with an additional faculty or staff member appointed as an alternate). The student may request one faculty member of the student’s choice to be added to the Divinity Judicial Board if such request is made at least 48 hours prior to the hearing. The general course of procedure for a Divinity Judicial Board hearing is as follows: (a) description of the alleged violation, (b) comments from the accused, (c) questions (to the accused by the panel for additional information and/or clarifications), (d) testimony/questions of other material witnesses (if applicable), and (e) closing comments from the accused. The panel may consider any information it deems relevant. If the panel needs additional information during a hearing, the panel may request such information and suspend its decision until such information is obtained. The accused will have the right to respond to any additional information that is used in considering an outcome. The Divinity Judicial Board may find the student responsible for academic misconduct by a majority vote; it may also, by majority vote, dismiss any charge. Upon finding a student responsible for academic misconduct, the Divinity Judicial Board may determine and impose (an) appropriate sanction(s). The sanction of expulsion must be supported by a minimum of three members of a four-person panel or four members of a five-person panel.

Appeal: A person convicted of a covenant breach may appeal the case to the dean of the Divinity School by providing: 1) written notice of that intention within forty-eight hours and 2) a written statement of the grounds of the appeal within seven days of the receipt of the verdict. Grounds for appeal include new and significant evidence that might alter the case or violation of due process. The dean will review the case. The dean’s decision is final. This appeal process does not apply to students subject to Involuntary Administrative Withdrawal (see “Administration of the Curriculum” on page 106).

Formal Process for a Grade Review: Under this process (which is in conformity with university practice) a student may request a formal grade review. Only final grades may be reviewed and a process must be initiated within thirty days of the final grade being assigned.

  • A student who questions a final grade received in a course should first discuss the matter with the instructor within thirty days of receiving the grade.
  • After meeting with the instructor, if the student still believes the instructor has assigned an inaccurate or unjustified grade, the student should discuss the matter with the associate dean for academic programs.
  • If no satisfactory resolution is reached, the student may make a formal complaint in writing to the associate dean for academic programs. The associate dean will convene the faculty and staff members appointed to the Divinity Judicial Board to review the case with the instructor involved. If the majority of those convened agree with the instructor that there are no legitimate grounds for which to change the grade, the grade stands as recorded.
  • If those convened believe there are grounds to consider a change and the instructor is unwilling to change the grade, the associate dean will notify the student that he or she may request a review of the case by writing to the dean of the Divinity School. A written request must be submitted before the end of the Drop/Add period of the semester following that in which the instructor recorded the grade. The dean will review the case. The dean’s decision is final.


(This third section of the Conduct Covenant is designed to foster continuing conversation regarding the Covenant and its relationship to the Divinity School community):

  • Our call is lived out in community. We do not claim as our own that which belongs to the community. We will respect the places of learning, help to care for the facilities, and share in the exchange of materials, neither stealing nor abusing books or other valuable tools of learning. We will abstain from cheating of every kind. We will not plagiarize, fabricate, or falsify our work or aid others in these forms of dishonesty. When we observe any forms of dishonesty, we recognize that we are under moral obligation to report the offender to the academic dean. In the truthful pursuit of knowledge and understanding, we will foster the honest and respectful exchange of ideas, prepare for class, listen carefully, seek to understand, and give a fair, accurate, and charitable account of ideas, positions, and arguments with which we agree and disagree. In this vital exchange, we will open ourselves to judgment, always seeking to learn and not bear false witness.
  • Those who claim Christ speak and live truthfully. We are called to show respect to all we meet, acknowledging in our daily behavior on and off the campus that we are called to live in the image of God. We work to strengthen one another in Christ. We are welcoming and hospitable, endeavoring to create a place where all will feel safe and free to share joys and struggles, passions and conflicts, hopes and fears. We serve and do not exploit one another. We honor the friendships we form, transcending self-service with mutual service. We live honestly before our friends, giving and receiving godly wisdom and holding ourselves accountable to one another as disciples of Jesus Christ. We attend to the concerns of our families, avoiding neglect, abuse, or evil counsel. We are faithful to the covenants we enter: personal, marital, familial, and communal. We encourage each other to ever-deepening commitment to Christ in prayer, fasting, chastity, worship, study, and acts of charity, justice, and mercy.

Code of Ethics for Social Media

We, the faculty and students in the Divinity School of Duke University commit to maintain a code of ethics concerning our speech and activity on social media networks. We commit to tell the truth, to be honest and fair, to be accurate, and to be respectful. We also commit to be accountable for any mistakes and correct them promptly. We will be cognizant of the fact that social media exists in a public forum, and hence we will be cautious and responsible about what we put out in the public sphere. Furthermore, we commit to maintain the confidentiality of others and to uphold federal requirements, such as FERPA and HIPAA.

Discrimination, Harassment, and Related Misconduct

Duke Divinity School adheres to Duke University’s Policy on Discrimination, Harrassment, and Related Misconduct. This also includes Title IX Sexual Misconduct policies that were edited in August 2020. Administrative responsibility for implementing Duke’s Harassment Policy lies with the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE).

The Divinity School has designated harassment officers available whom students, staff or faculty may approach for counsel if they have experienced or are aware of a case involving any form of harassment. See below.

The Duke Community Standard

Duke University is a community dedicated to scholarship, leadership, and service and to the principles of honesty, fairness, respect, and accountability. Citizens of this community commit to reflect upon and uphold these principles in all academic and nonacademic endeavors, and to protect and promote a culture of integrity.

To uphold the Duke Community Standard:

  • I will not lie, cheat, or steal in my academic endeavors;
  • I will conduct myself honorably in all my endeavors; and
  • I will act if the Standard is compromised.

Duke has also determined that the various schools of the university should create and retain their own unique honor systems because such systems will best match the varying needs of the individual schools.

Duke University Discrimination and Harassment Policy

The Office for Institutional Equity (OIE) Liaison Program builds a consistent institutional infrastructure for supporting members of the Duke community and responding to concerns of discrimination, harassment and/or related misconduct at Duke.

Learn more about Institutional Equity and Compliance and how to report discrimination, harassment, and/or related misconduct at Duke.