Duke Intense Global: Students to Immerse Themselves in Culture, Language of Russia, India

A pilot project will allow Duke students to spend a year immersing themselves in the culture and language of Russia or India -- and include civic engagement in the experience.

Duke University students who want to spend a year immersing themselves in the culture and language of Russia or India -- and include civic engagement in the experience -- will have that opportunity through a pilot program.

The program, Duke INtense Global, or DIG, will be offered in the 2011-12 school year, with preference given to rising sophomores. Two groups of five to 10 students will take specified classes at Duke and abroad.

The program is designed to foster close collaboration between students and faculty in small group settings. It also offers multidisciplinary coursework, cross-cultural civic engagement and intense language instruction. All of the international components, including travel, will be covered by the student's standard Duke tuition, room and board charges.

"Twenty-first century leaders across the vocations need a global imagination," said Gregory Jones, Duke's vice president for global strategy and programs. "Such an imagination is enhanced by immersion into the languages and cultures of other areas of the globe. Duke INtense Global offers undergraduates an incredible opportunity for such immersion."

DIG creatively connects three of Duke's strategic priorities for the undergraduate experience, said Steve Nowicki, dean and vice provost for undergraduate education.

"It widens the spectrum of ways in which our students can become more globally aware, it deepens the connection between students and faculty outside of a traditional classroom setting, and through its emphasis on civic engagement it emphasizes the importance of putting knowledge in the service of society," Nowicki said.

The structure of the program in the two countries differs.

The Russian program requires students to take four credits in the fall, including two credits of intensive Russian; Introduction to Slavic Linguistics; and Neuroscience and Multilingualism, taught by Edna Andrews, professor of linguistics and cultural anthropology and the initiator of the DIG proposal. Students study at Duke and continue their studies for three to four weeks in late October-November at St. Petersburg University. Native Russian professors will teach the language courses. Faculty and students will move between the two campuses.

In the spring, students will take only one credit of accelerated second-year Russian as part of DIG. The other three courses are based completely on student choice. Then, students will spend the first summer session (May 7 to July 15) participating in the Duke in Russia summer program (two credits) and finish up the summer with a service immersion program in Russia through DukeEngage http://dukeengage.duke.edu/.

Andrews likens the new program to opportunities offered to government and private sector specialists in the international sphere.

"It is one of the most exciting, innovative ways of combining global perspectives and gaining deep knowledge across disciplines with a focus on a specific international region," said Andrews, noting that students can complete this program and still major in any discipline at Duke. "It can really change the way we view learning in an international context. Within one year, students who have not studied these regions before will gain advanced-level proficiency in culture and language, as well as disciplinary expertise."

Leela Prasad, associate professor in the religion department and faculty director of the Duke Center for Civic Engagement, is leading the DIG-India program. Students will be required to take four credits in the fall, including two of intensive first-year Hindi; Ethics in South Asia-India; and Gandhi: Image and Reflection. Duke students will collaborate with their Indian peers to teach children who lack schooling opportunities.

"Such a program is instrumental as we seek to educate our students to become outstanding global leaders with a broad humanistic vision, capable of making transformative contributions to society," Prasad said. In fall 2011, students begin at Duke and continue their studies at the University of Hyderabad for eight weeks, from mid-October to early December. Prasad will teach the Gandhi and ethics courses. University of Hyderabad faculty will handle the intensive language course.

During the spring semester, students will study for eight weeks beginning in January 2012 at the University of Hyderabad and the International Institute of Information Technology - Hyderabad and return to Duke at the start of spring break to finish the semester. _ _ _ _

The application deadline is Jan. 30. Acceptance notifications will be issued by March 1. For more information, go to http://www.seelrc.org/dig/ or contact the professors directly.