Although Duke Kunshan University began as a project spearheaded by the Fuqua School of Business, administrators are now planning to integrate the liberal arts and undergraduate experience.
Duke has approved two masters programs for DKU, which is expected to open to students Fall 2014, but undergraduate opportunities are now part of the discussions. A Duke undergraduate global health study abroad program to be offered at DKU has already been approved, alongside the Master of Management Studies through Fuqua and a Master of Science in Global Health through the Duke Global Health Institute. Administrators hope to offer additional undergraduate programs in the first few years of the initiative, with undergraduate degree programs as a possibility in the far-off future.
Mary Bullock, recently appointed executive vice chancellor for DKU, said she expects the new university to have an effect on undergraduates on Duke’s Durham campus as well as the one in Kunshan, noting that many plans have yet to be made.
“This kind of major effort should be transformative—it should have a transformative impact on Duke here in Durham and a transformative impact on higher education in China,” Bullock said. “I already see the impact of DKU here in Durham.”
Nora Bynum, vice provost for DKU and China Initiatives, said an undergraduate degree program will not be offered immediately. But undergraduate course clusters, offered in cooperation with Wuhan University—DKU’s Chinese academic partner—should be available by the time DKU opens.
DKU is currently awaiting establishment approval from the Chinese Ministry of Education, which is required for a foreign university to offer degree programs in China. In the interim, administrators hope to offer programs such as the course clusters, which are non-degree programs operated by Wuhan and Duke—not by DKU.
She also noted that in the long run, she expects DKU to offer internship and research opportunities for undergraduates, along with a full undergraduate degree program. But no concrete plans have been fleshed out.
Provost Peter Lange said DKU will eventually serve as a study abroad venue for undergraduates, functioning like a “Duke in” program, with the benefit of having a full Duke campus as a platform. Lange noted that like other Duke study abroad programs, the University will have “full control over the curriculum and the faculty.”
Bullock noted that she—along with Bynum—has held conversations with various sectors of the University to develop a vision for the DKU undergraduate experience. Participants included the Office of Information Technology, Human Resources, the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences administration and the DKU student advisory committee.
The student committee began in the Spring as an undergraduate task force, but is now comprised of ten undergraduates and ten graduate students. Sophomore Emily Feng, a member of the committee, said the group serves to brainstorm along with administrators as well as function as a bridge between American and Chinese cultures.
The committee has not explicitly discussed undergraduate degrees for DKU, Feng said, but she expects that it will in the future. She noted, however, that the committee has discussed ways of allowing Duke students who study abroad at DKU to share their experiences with undergraduates in Durham. She said she hopes the two universities will be constantly in communication.
“[DKU] is by definition an extension of Duke’s campus,” said Feng, who is also a member of The Chronicle’s independent editorial board. “We want to create a strong relationship between the students and the professors who work at either institution.”
Bullock, OIT, and the global team are brainstorming ways to forge technological connections between the Kunshan and Durham campuses.
Tracy Futhey, vice president for information technology and chief information officer, has been involved in discussions of how to use technology to make this transition possible.
“What we’re very eager to do is use technology to bridge the geographic gap between here and China,” she said.
Futhey said nothing has been decided definitely, but she hopes to implement video conferencing between the two campuses, noting that this technology already exists in Durham. This would make conversations with speakers or classes from other locations possible.
The time difference—12 hours—poses a problem for planning times to video conference, Futhey noted, but she believes people on either end will take advantage of the few times that are congruous. Additionally, Futhey said technological applications without time sensitivity are a possibility, including blogs and social networking tools.
The recently created Committee for Teaching Liberal Arts in China—co-chaired by Bynum and Dean of Arts and Sciences Laurie Patton—is discussing how to effectively teach liberal arts courses in China and what types of programs may be pursued.
“Our excitement comes from the fact that we will blend the best of Western liberal arts tradition, the best of Chinese educational traditions and the new interest in liberal arts in China to create something new,” Patton wrote in an email Wednesday, noting that the committee has just had its first meeting, and all plans being discussed are still very preliminary.
Bullock is confident that DKU will eventually be a staple of the Duke experience, whether it be at home or abroad.
“In the future, students are going to be able to go to China and take interesting courses, but it’s not limited to that,” Bullock said. “Faculty will go to China, do research and come back here. [They will] bring China into the classroom even if they’re not teaching a course on China. That will transform the curriculum.”