The University’s collaboration with Shiv Nadar University is not confined to the college level.

The Duke University Talent Identification Program, which has provided programming for academically gifted students since 1980, has been working with Indian students since summer 2008. In the past, Duke TIP’s presence in India had been restricted to a three-week summer program, housed at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, where Duke Corporate Education has offices, said Martha Putallaz, executive director of Duke TIP.

But with the signing of a memorandum of understanding Thursday, Duke TIP and SNU will work together to pursue new modes of identifying and educating academically gifted students. The first initiative, as part of the collaboration, will be a conference hosted by both universities to discuss the best methods of teaching and creating curricula for gifted students.

“We’re going to jointly offer the conference to share with [Indian educators] the best practices for working with academically talented students—ways to frame the curriculum so it’s a hands-on, creative problem solving, as opposed to rote learning,” Putallaz said.

In 2010, TIP began collaborating with Educational Initiatives, an educational talent search company based in India, said Duke TIP Program Director Mara Shurgot. EI uses similar methods to those used in the United States for identifying gifted students. Students in the 95th percentile for testing at their grade level are asked to take a test at a higher grade level, and students who score at the 95th percentile for the subsequent test are invited to participate in the TIP program.

Students travel from all over the country to participate in the three-week program, Shurgot noted, adding that some students’ commute takes multiple days.

“It’s humbling, exciting and pretty wonderful, the effort [parents] will make to allow their children to attend,” Shurgot said.

The courses currently offered pack the equivalent of a college semester’s worth of material into three weeks, said Duke TIP Marketing Manager Emily Swartzlander.

“These kids are working very, very hard,” she said. “This is an academic camp.” She added that TIP provides need-based financial aid for about a third of the students who participate in the program, which costs $1,500.

With the promise of expanded endeavors in India, Shurgot said she hopes TIP will be able to provide shorter one- or two-day programs throughout the year to give more students the opportunity to attend. The program already provides eStudies—online courses that enroll both Indian and American students.

Putallaz said TIP hopes to continue international expansion to create a global learning network, noting the possibility of pursuing involvement in China when Duke Kunshan University is established.

“We’re hoping we can bring together Indian and American students and other nationalities, so we can really create a connected community of academically gifted students who are all interested in furthering their development,” Putallaz said.