Category Archives: Academics

Duke’s Chinese Campus

The notion that Duke expands its global horizons is nothing new. As a university, it continually strives to better diversify its student body by nationality. Similarly Duke students are encouraged to visit foreign lands for a semester or year to become more knowledgeable both academically and culturally. As globalization has become more imminent, Duke’s focus on becoming a more worldly institution has only grown.  In fact, the university has partnered with Chinese University Wuhan to open its first campus outside of the U.S.  According to administrators, the Kushan, China campus will “create new opportunities for education, research and public service.”

As was first reported in January of 2010, Duke initially planned on collaborating with Shanghai Jiau Tong University to establish the new campus, however the partnership fell through last summer after the idea of supporting an institution in province outside of their own was far too much for Shanghai Jiau Tong to bear. Due to Chinese Ministry of Education laws, a Chinese University must agree to support any foreign education institutions located within the country. Once Shanghai Jiau Tong dropped out of the picture, Duke needed to find a partner and fast. Fortunately, Wuhan University stepped in and will co-sponsor the entity.

In all, costs could rise as high as $11 million over the next five years. Around half, $5.5 million or so, will be for construction oversight. To date, the building of the campus has made progress, however at a slower than hoped rate. The completion date has been bumped back from sometime in 2011 to 2012.

Although many universities offer programs to study abroad for their students, such as Duke in Berlin, or Duke in Madrid, the concept of creating an entirely new campus takes the notion to a whole new level. Details as to whether or not current students will be able to study at the new campus have not been discussed, however the fact that facilities are actually being created with the Duke name on them is incredible. I would not be surprised if more and more universities looked to try a concept like this. It certainly gives Duke a leg up in global education landscape. The curriculum will be centered on interdisciplinary studies as well as programs created by the Fuqua School of Business. It will provide a unique learning experience for those who attend.

As I read learn more about the concept there are a few thoughts that come to mind. How will Chinese laws regarding free information acquisition affect Duke’s philosophy on education? Clearly, Duke will adhere to the policies of its host nation, but I wonder if it will change the university’s nature that promotes constant curiosity and need to dig for more information. Secondly, I can’t stop thinking how innovative this concept is. I really believe this is the first of many projects like this to come, and I am extremely impressed with Duke’s ambition to become more global.

I plan on following this story and will post updates on my blog as they come!

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Language Requirements

U.S. Lawmakers are facing an interesting debate in regards to today’s school systems: Should learning Chinese be mandatory in American public schools?

Currently over 1.3 billion people populate China, which amounts to roughly 19.5% of the world’s population. Both through my former posts as well as through the different news articles I have referenced, it is clear that China’s presence worldwide cannot be ignored. Although I do not believe China to be a threat to replace the U.S. as the preeminent world power, I do think their possibility to impact the global landscape is formidable.

In a recent New York Times article it was reported that the number of middle and high schools offering Chinese grew by 4%. While thousands of schools have ceased offering foreign languages at all, more and more are considering Chinese to be a top priority over the likes of both Spanish and German. The Chinese government is actually subsidizing Chinese language programs in America, and according to the article, since 2006 China has sent 325 guest teachers to the U.S. to work in schools. It is not a huge number, but it is indicative of the increasing emphasis on learning Chinese.

I am a proponent of teaching kids a secondary language at a young age, and continuously through their academic careers. The benefits, which include an enhanced ability to communicate with a variety of peoples, as well as a broader cultural understanding, are obvious. Knowing more than one language affords one the opportunity to succeed in a variety of places rather than just the U.S. So with this being said, the question then becomes: what language should schools require and offer?

In my mind there is no clear answer. As mentioned above, China’s prevalence on the world scene is growing at a rapid rate, but over 44 million people in the U.S. currently speak Spanish of some form. Spanish has been the most taught language in U.S. schools, and according to many government bureaus and studies, the language’s presence in America will only continue to grow. Knowing this, I conclude that schools should either offer Chinese or Spanish in some capacity. These are the two languages that are most likely to affect Americans in both the near and distant future. Similarly the overall goal of offering these languages is to prepare students for future challenges, which it does well. By providing either of these languages, students will be gaining valuable knowledge on a least one of the two major U.S. global influences. The reality however, is that providing these languages and allowing students to choose is quite an expensive endeavor. The most pragmatic solution in which students could choose which language they want to learn, involves school districts encouraging some schools to offer Spanish, and others Chinese. If either a way to allow students to take classes at more than one location, or after-school-programs is implemented, students would have the opportunity to choose which language (of the two) they wanted to learn.

When it comes down to it, the best solution is one that requires students to learn either Chinese or Spanish, but have a say in which one they pursue. If schools can somehow find a way to offer both languages in some form, the benefits would far extend what they would if only one language was available.

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