Department Spotlight: Opening the World to Duke

Duke's Global Education Office supports 100 programs across six continents

The Global Education Office assists in sending about 1,050 students away annually.
The Global Education Office assists in sending about 1,050 students abroad or across the country annually.

What the office does: The Global Education Office (GEO) establishes study abroad opportunities for students, assists faculty with creating domestic and international courses and advises students on available programs.

The Global Education Office divides its programs into two categories: Duke-Approved and Duke-In.

Duke-Approved programs are sponsored by other U.S. or foreign universities and providers, like CIEE. The university fully manages Duke-In programs or shares responsibility with other institutions.

“We want to make sure what we offer reflects the university landscape values and can help students achieve academic and personal goals,” said Amanda Kelso, executive director and assistant vice provost for undergraduate education. “We want every program to offer a unique learning experience of a quality similar to what you would find on the main campus.”  

There are more than 150 Duke-approved programs and 40 Duke-In programs spread out across six continents, including Duke-In sites in the United States. About 1,050 students study away annually.

“I have seen students transformed by their study away programs,” said Soraya Campbell, assistant director and regional manager. “Whether it’s learning more about Moroccan culture in Morocco or improving a second language, there’s something out there for everyone.” 

Number of employees: 16

How the office makes a difference: Nearly everyone in the office has an experience abroad that’s led them to help others have one of their own.

For Carolyn Covalt, a program coordinator and adviser, it was living in Ecuador for a year while in high school and, later, two years in northern Japan teaching English to K-12 students.

And for Campbell, it was visiting Duke’s program in Istanbul and seeing how students were changed by their experiences learning from and interacting with the culture. 

“What you gain by living abroad is that everyone on the planet wakes up trying to feed their family, take care of their friends and try not to run out of gas,” Covalt said. “There’s magic to that. We want our students to experience that.”

Returning students are invited to share their experiences through a series of Global Education Office-organized panels, on-line through photos and testimonies.

“We want this to be a highlight of their time at Duke, and an inspiration to keep seeking new experiences beyond the familiar,” Kelso said.

What the department can do for you: Faculty can work with the office to explore ideas for new Duke-In programs.  The proposal must explain the nature of the proposed program, including the main learning objectives, structural elements and curricular needs. If approved, the office will run a financial, risk and legal audit.

The entire process takes an average of two years.

“For faculty and staff who work with our programs, it's a different experience than teaching on campus. Instead of showing Ancient Rome in slides, faculty can walk students from site to site in Rome,” Kelso said.

(Left) Students learn how to make Spanish cuisine in Madrid. (Top) Students on the Duke in Madrid program attend an excursion in Toledo, Spain. (Right) A Duke student takes a photo at Mount Olympus. Significant achievement: When Kelso started in the office in 1998, just eight people worked for the Global Education Office and nearly 40 percent of the study body studied away.

In the 20 years since, the office has doubled and is able to support the 50 percent of Duke’s student body that studies away.

“We put a lot of care into what we do and to how we operate our programs,” Kelso said. “Study abroad is very accepted at Duke. The university, from administration to academic advisers, encourage it.” 

Big goal: The office is currently focusing on two large goals. One is working toward incorporating more internship and research opportunities in study away programs.

Currently, internships are required in Duke’s domestic study away programs like required in Duke’s domestic study away programs like New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

“Duke stands out because it’s open to new ideas and innovations in programming,” Kelso said. “We’re always ready to explore new destinations, disciplines, and learning opportunities.”   

The other goal is continuing to improve outreach to students. GEO offers 30-minute appointments, open houses and program information meetings. . In collaboration with several Duke units, the office has begun to offer a series of discussions featuring students and open to the community, including “The Black Experience Abroad,” “Women’s Experience Abroad” and “Out in the World” for LGBTQIA+ students.

“Study abroad can be hard to unpack,” Covalt said. “It’s important to talk about where it was difficult and where it was rewarding. “

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