Duke Kunshan University (DKU) is a partnership of Duke University and Wuhan University to create a world-class university offering a range of academic programs and conferences for students from China and throughout the world. DKU is located in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, China.
Duke University has a responsibility for, as well as a practical interest in, building the diversity of its faculty, students, and staff. We are also committed to advancing research and teaching on the history, cultures, and contemporary issues affected by and affecting the lives of under-represented minorities in the United States and less economically developed populations abroad. It is only a little more than 40 years since the first African Americans joined our faculty and student body. Since that time, Duke has undertaken many steps to foster increased racial presence and better race relations on our campus, and to provide regional and national leadership. We cannot, however, rest on our accomplishments. Too often diversity in numbers is not diversity in the experiences of our students. As changes in our society and the world demand that we bring to our community faculty members and students from a wide variety of backgrounds, we must more fully integrate their experiences and perspectives into our research and educational programs as well as our campus community.
In a world characterized by globalization and increasing inter-cultural interaction, it is critical that our students engage other cultures and the differing perspectives they offer in their daily experiences both inside and outside the classroom. Faculty and students benefit most by interacting creatively and productively with the widest possible range of individuals, ideas, and peoples. We seek to model and teach that the range of human differences in the classroom, in the hospital, and in our laboratories matters at Duke and in the world. How better to learn about other cultures than to participate in a classroom debate with a broad range of people, all with different backgrounds and experiences? How better to understand the challenges we all face in society, this ever-changing and increasingly global world, than to hear our students and faculty share their own creative ideas in a respectful environment? Learning about the myriad beliefs and viewpoints, from world events to religious convictions to preferences in music and film, is part of the excitement of engaging ideas in a community of inquiry such as ours, but engaging the individuals who hold those beliefs is also critical. Diversity is not only about differing viewpoints, perspectives, and opinions but is also about the engagement with the people who are keepers of those viewpoints, perspectives, and opinions. Discovering, through a clash of differing ideas, that a deeply entrenched belief may not be accurate, can be a thought-provoking—as well as a life-changing—experience. It is also critical preparation for living and working in the world into which our students enter upon graduation.
A second practical concern is equally as important. In the increasingly globalized post-Cold War world, talent and potential are far more widespread and far more accessible than was true even 20 years ago. If Duke is to achieve the excellence to which it aspires we must seek that talent from all backgrounds and places on the globe. The diversity and excellence of our faculty and students must reflect both that search and our commitment to it.