New faculty arrive on campus for innovation workshop | Duke Kunshan University

New faculty arrive on campus for innovation workshop

May 23, 2019

Dan Stephens, assistant professor of philosophy, who taught the inaugural undergraduate class, addresses his new colleagues

Seventeen new faculty members hired for Duke Kunshan’s undergraduate program arrived on campus in May for an in-depth workshop on curriculum development and teaching innovation.

The fresh cohort took part in the second “design institute” in this year’s Learning Innovation Fellowship program, as well as group discussions with existing faculty, to prepare for the unique teaching and learning environment.

Led by Duke Learning Innovation, the LIF helps faculty design syllabi for Duke Kunshan’s interdisciplinary courses and seven-week session structure that incorporate active and innovative learning strategies.

“The workshop brought together new and current faculty,” said Noah Pickus, dean of undergraduate curricular affairs and faculty development at Duke Kunshan. “The first day helped new faculty adapt to the innovative learning environment here, and the second ensured all faculty had an opportunity to reflect and forge a common set of reference points for teaching and learning.”

Sixteen members of the new cohort also traveled to North Carolina in the United States for the first LIF session in March, when they met with colleagues from Duke University. In addition to two in-person workshops, the program includes an eight-week online component.

“Duke Kunshan’s curriculum aims for a balance between making sure students have a firm grounding in research methods and insights from various disciplines without inculcating disciplinary divisions,” said Yitzhak Lewis, who has a Ph.D. from Columbia University and will start as assistant professor of humanities in the fall.

Noah Pickus, dean of undergraduate curricular affairs and faculty development

“Over the course of the LIF, I recognized the unique potential Duke Kunshan’s curriculum has to introduce interdisciplinary courses from the very beginning and in a seven-week structure that allows students to build multidisciplinary familiarity faster,” he said.

Duke Kunshan will welcome 34 new faculty for the undergraduate program this summer, including visiting scholars. Members of this cohort come from China and countries around the world, such as the U.S., the United Kingdom, Israel and the Netherlands.

“I’m looking forward to bringing my research and expertise into play in a number of different teaching contexts in a way that wouldn’t be possible if I was teaching within a single discipline,” said Kim Hunter Gordon, Duke Kunshan’s new assistant professor of Chinese and performance studies, and a renowned expert on Kunqu Opera.

“The interdisciplinary courses allow us to prepare students for the unique questions and challenges of the 21st century,” he added.