Undergraduate Curriculum

Common Core, Language and Communication

Common Core (12 credits)

A key component of a DKU education will be opportunities for students and faculty to develop a degree of common knowledge and shared experiences that ensure, as Andrew Delbanco has written, “that no student is a complete stranger to any other.”  One dimension of this commonality is a set of core courses that focus on big questions, critical challenges and issues with which every student should be prepared to engage.  Engagement will require drawing from and integrating humanistic and scientific knowledge that includes its historical context and cultural traditions of thought about value, the nature of reality, and what it is to be human.  Such knowledge is both a means for addressing challenges and a pre-requisite for understanding what our challenges are and how we might meet them. Common Core courses also provide regular instruction and guided practice in writing,  speaking and listening for non-specialist audiences throughout the first three years. Students will take these courses one per year in sequence so that the common experience and development of communication skills extend across time. The three courses are: 

  • China in the World focuses on the historical and contemporary commercial, intellectual, and scientific exchanges between China and multiple locations around the world. 
  • Global Challenges in Science, Technology, and Health addresses key developments in fields such a biotechnology, nanotechnology and information technology and challenges such as energy, water and resource management and teaches strategies for critically evaluating scientific claims.
  • Ethics, Citizenship and the Examined Life examines traditional Asian and Western ideals and contemporary analyses of moral self-cultivation, democracy and meritocracy, and pluralism and uniformity.

Language (16 credits or proficiency)

As an international university located in China, all students will develop at least conversational fluency in Chinese. Because most courses will be taught in English, it is equally important that all students develop a level of proficiency in English that enables them to be successful in an academic setting. Students will enter with different levels of proficiency in each language and be placed into the appropriate courses upon entrance.  Courses in other languages will also be available at different levels for students who desire to learn or develop existing skills in languages other than English or Chinese. 

Communication (Writing, Speaking and Listening)

In the 21st century, success in both career and civic life requires the ability to communicate effectively. To ensure that Duke Kunshan students develop these abilities, guided practice in writing, speaking and listening are built into the fabric of the curriculum. All three Divisional Foundations sequences provide opportunities for students to practice the specialized discourse of their chosen field, while Common Core courses help students learn to communicate as scholars and professionals to broader audiences. Toward the end of their undergraduate studies, all students take on more advanced writing, speaking and listening challenges as part of their signature work and capstone projects.