When we rolled out our first Read-a-thon, a two-day reading bout for The Economist lovers, this May, we did not have working with universities in mind. The brainchild was the result of our combined whims: reluctant to be overwhelmed by the Labor Day crowds, we came up with this idea on the spur of the moment, and got it off the ground soon.
Our idea and subsequent Read-a-thons in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen did not go unnoticed. When Xue, an academic coordinator at Duke Kunshan University (Duke Kunshan University), sent the invitation to bring Read-a-thon to her campus, we gleefully accepted it. This is the first time we repurposed Read-a-thon to accommodate the specific needs of our client. We restructured the curriculum, reduced the amount of reading, reselected two articles about country governance and policy and climate change, and delivered two lectures on how to read at the very beginning before we splashed into reading.
One of the highlights of our Duke Kunshan University gig was exposure to a new model of higher education in China. Though not the first of its kind, Duke Kunshan University has made a name for itself in recent years. Academically, it boasts an impressive student to teacher ratio (in some programs 5:1 is not unusual). Professors and teaching assistants are recruited applying Duke University's standards. Many are US-educated returnees who put teaching and students first. That Duke Kunshan University has attracted students who went to college in the US and were admitted to such prestigious universities as Stanford is indicative of its academic prowess.
Duke Kunshan University has a small but beautiful and carefully designed campus. Once you step on it, you can easily feel like visiting an American college. Swaths of details stand out: food allergies are reminded at the entrance of the dining hall; water fountains are conveniently located, so are hand sanitizers; an emergency button can be found in the restroom for the disabled; a sandwich bar encourages students to bring their own mugs to reduce paper and plastic waste; its hand towels are "made from premium fibers from recycled beverage cartons and leftovers of agricultural activities and forest practices". Visit it when you get a chance.
a fledgling institute set to make a difference
We thank Xue and Duke Kunshan University for inviting us to its beautiful campus and interacting with its curious and hard-working students. We look forward to working with it again in the future.