Undergraduate Curriculum

Undergraduate Curriculum

A 21st Century Curriculum

The Duke Kunshan curriculum begins from liberal arts principles and is imbued with the hallmarks of a Duke education blended with Chinese tradition:  interdisciplinary approaches, engagement with research questions, problem-based and team-based learning, and opportunities for students to craft individual pathways and deepen their intellectual engagement over time.  It is a kind of education that builds critical and problem-solving skills, simultaneously conferring a broad base of knowledge and fostering the ability to interrogate that knowledge and apply it flexibly. It is also deeply cross-cultural in its orientation: Duke Kunshan gives all participants the continual experience of learning to see from multiple points of view and to work together across cultural boundaries—a crucial skill for the future.

A Liberal Arts College Experience

The small-scale residential setting at Duke Kunshan offers significant opportunities for innovative and integrated forms of learning, an especially close connection between faculty and students, and the intermixing of students with different interests. In addition, Duke Kunshan offers creative alignments between its undergraduate curriculum and selected areas of research strength at Duke Kunshan and at Duke. Liberal arts colleges provide direct access to research opportunities for undergraduates – they leverage their small size, commitment to teaching to provide opportunities for one-on-one and small team-based scholarly mentoring. In the United States, liberal arts colleges disproportionately produce students who go on to earn PhD’s. Duke Kunshan offers the same kinds of focus on discovery and the co-creation of knowledge as at liberal arts colleges with the added dimension of research centers on site and connections to a major research university in the United States and to Wuhan University in China.

Dual Degrees

Duke Kunshan University is accredited by the Ministry of Education (MOE) of the People’s Republic of China. Duke Kunshan University students successfully completing the course of study required by Duke Kunshan University and Duke University will be conferred both a Duke Kunshan University graduation certificate and diploma officially approved by the MOE as well as a diploma from Duke University indicating that the degree has been granted in accordance with the requirements of Duke Kunshan University and Duke University (Duke University is accredited by SACSCOC). Students will be alumni of both institutions.

Duke University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) in the United States to award baccalaureate, master’s and doctorate degrees. Duke Kunshan University is not accredited by SACSCOC and the accreditation of Duke University does not extend to or include Duke Kunshan University or its students. Further, although Duke University agrees to accept certain course work from Duke Kunshan University to be applied toward an award from Duke University, that course work may not be accepted by other colleges or universities in transfer, even if it appears on a transcript from Duke University. The decision to accept course work in transfer from any institution is made by the institution considering the acceptance of credits or course work.

Animating Principles

These seven principles are expressed throughout the curriculum, and constitute its overarching goals:

  • Rooted Globalism: To cultivate informed and engaged citizens who are knowledgeable about each other’s histories, traditions of thought and affiliations; and skilled in navigating among local, national and global identities and commitments.
  • Collaborative Problem-Solving: To instill the habits of collaboration and the ability to synthesize disparate insights in solving complex challenges.
  • Research and PracticeTo enhance the ability to forge links between theory and practice in the many-sided and rapidly changing world of human need.
  • Lucid Communication: To develop the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, and to listen attentively to different viewpoints in coming to mature judgments.
  • Independence and Creativity: To nurture free inquiry, deep reflection and a drive to ask interesting questions and find compelling answers.
  • Wise LeadershipTo shape thinkers and doers who possess the moral compass to guide communities and institutions toward a common good and who have the wisdom and technical competence to deal effectively with complexity.
  • A Purposeful Life: To form reflective scholars who test their core beliefs, connect their course of study to big questions of meaning, and who build the capacity for lifelong learning and exploration.