Over the past two years, people across the Duke community have come together to plan our future. We call our new plan Making a Difference because that’s what our actions will do for the many people here and around the world whose lives will be touched by the work of this great school.
Our plan looks beyond the traditional model of universities. That model, with its emphasis on specialization and tightly bounded disciplines, has served us well for more than a century, yielding intellectual breakthroughs in many fields. But its limits are increasingly clear for the challenges that lie ahead.
The important problems of the contemporary world exceed the scope of any single discipline. Health challenges require the understanding of medical diagnosis, management economics, cultural differences and ethical values. Dealing with global climate issues requires a mix of expertise including physical and biological sciences, engineering, business, policy and law.
While Duke will continue to embrace the essential aspects of specialized research, teaching and learning, the university will build on its special strengths in collaboration and connection of knowledge to real-world problems. More than ever, we will prepare students to approach issues with creativity, flexibility and a curious mind. Engagement across lines of race, ethnicity, religion and national culture will become more important as training for an increasingly interconnected world.
Under the leadership of Provost Peter Lange, each of Duke’s schools and major programs, including many faculty and other members of our community, joined in the effort to produce this plan. (The health system, athletics and student life are being considered in complementary plans.) As you will see in the following summary or by reading the document online, this plan reflects the collective boldness and thoughtfulness of its authors. Together, we are privileged to be part of a great university, with an opportunity to reshape higher education and make a difference on campus and in the world. As this plan makes clear, that is what we are determined to do.
Richard H. Brodhead
President, Duke University