The Newsletter 77 Summer 2017

A global supply chain of teaching and learning - Duke Kunshan University

Andrew Field

I have been Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs at Duke Kunshan University for nearly two years now. Until our undergraduate degree program starts in Fall 2018, my main role is overseeing our Global Learning Semester (GLS). This program has offered many challenges and opportunities for the advancement of higher learning in China and for providing an international and China-focused educational experience to both faculty and students from all over the world. The semester-long GLS program brings undergraduate students from over 20 partner universities in China, together with international students, in a liberal-arts style program at DKU. In addition to our Duke faculty who come to Kunshan to teach, we have a small team of DKU faculty who teach language and writing courses. Most of our Chinese students choose our Academic Writing course, which involves intensive training in US-style academic writing.

The first challenge that I faced when starting as Associate Dean, was to ensure that the processes of selecting courses and faculty, approving syllabi, and orienting our faculty all go smoothly. All the courses and syllabi for our GLS program are vetted and pre-approved by a committee of Duke faculty and are added to the Duke course catalog. Since our courses involve teaching many students for whom English is a foreign language, we have to ensure that the courses for our GLS program account for the different learning environment at DKU (opposed to Duke), while still maintaining the high quality of Duke courses, especially because our GLS program courses are awarded Duke credits.

Andrew Field with his Shanghai History students and special guest Betty Barr Wang, who spoke about her experience in a Japanese internment camp in Shanghai in the 1940s. Courtesy: Duke Kunshan University

In addition to running a Duke-quality program, taught mainly by Duke faculty in Kunshan, we also face the challenge of attracting students from Duke and other universities. Attracting more American students is challenging for several reasons: Duke students have to meet their major course requirements and other distribution requirements; and US students have the choice of many programs in China, some that are located in more well-known cities than Kunshan. Instituting a Kunshan Innovation Scholarship starting in spring 2017 has helped to attract more students from the USA, including students from liberal arts colleges that do not have China-based programs of their own. Word of mouth has also been helpful, since most of our American students have greatly enjoyed the experience of living and studying with a largely Chinese student body in an international university setting with top-quality facilities and faculty. One of the great values of the GLS program for Chinese students is that it serves as a powerful springboard for students wishing to do graduate work abroad. Studying in an English-language Duke-quality liberal arts program greatly enhances their reading, writing, speaking and critical thinking skills, and they receive much assistance in applying to graduate schools abroad.

Despite the challenges, the GLS program has been a great success in terms of providing a high-quality academic and extracurricular educational experience for all involved. Over 300 students have completed this program already, and we will run it for one more year before launching our 4-year degree program in fall 2018. Running this program has taught us a great deal as an institution, and this program’s success has at least partially vindicated the model of providing a liberal arts higher education to a largely Chinese yet also international student body. I am very proud of our work and pleased to have helped to bring this ambitious goal to fruition.

Andrew Field is Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs at Duke Kunshan University (