Beyond the Basics: Addressing DEI Blind Spots on Global Campuses
The first graduating class at Duke Kunshan University, the Class of 2022, includes students from more than 50 countries and 22 Chinese provinces. However, even before the COVID-19 pandemic required most students to study remotely, faculty and staff at the Chinese campus realized that intentionally forging connections between these disparate groups was what Dean of Student Affairs Raphael X. Moffett, EdD, calls a “blind spot.”
“The assumption was if we got all these students in China and from all over the world, they would be magnetically drawn to each other,” he says. “The most critical part of what we do is train these students and give them the skills to go anywhere on the planet and be successful because they’ve had this experience. We have to be intentional.”
Therein lies the first part of the challenge for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts on campuses around the globe—both the branch campuses of U.S. institutions and universities in countries with significant international student populations. While contexts and ethnicities may differ, the most visible problem is a universal one: Whether due to comfort or familiarity, people tend to gravitate to peers with whom they have commonalities.
“The most critical part of what we do is train these students and give them the skills to go anywhere on the planet and be successful because they’ve had this experience. We have to be intentional.” —Raphael X. Moffett
This problem is not a new one. Breaking down cultural barriers has always been a central part