A Look Back at the Fall 2020 Semester at DUCIGS

January 20, 2021
Giovanni Zanalda
Dr. Giovanni Zalanda 
Director, DUCIGS

Dear Friends,

As we reflect on the end of an unprecedented year, we would like to share with you some of the achievements of the past semester.

We are proud to say, as we did in the 2019-2020 Annual Report, that we successfully transitioned our fall programming to a virtual setting. Despite all the challenges, DUCIGS and its affiliated units continued to support students and faculty as well as engage local, national, and international communities, alumni, and partners in studying, researching, and debating some of the main challenges of our time.

Overall, attendance at our events has been enthusiastic, with students, faculty and community members showing a consistent loyalty to our programming. Our international and interdisciplinary approach has been particularly relevant in analyzing the social, scientific, and technological challenges that have characterized the world in 2020 and will continue to guide us in the post-COVID time.

Two stand-out items include the work on our Rethinking Diplomacy program and Global Anti-Racism special series. You can find further details about these signature programs below.

Your appreciation and positive feedback have been very important for us. While we are working on another active schedule of events and activities for the Spring 2021 term, we want to use this occasion to thank our partners and sponsors for their continuous support.

On behalf of the DUCIGS community, I send best wishes for a healthy 2021.

Giovanni Zanalda
Director, Duke University Center for International and Global Studies

A Semester By the Numbers


Between August and November 2020, DUCIGS and the area studies centers produced and co-sponsored 102 events, drawing a cumulative audience of over 7000 attendees from all over the world.

Rethinking Diplomacy Program

Rethinking Diplomacy Banner


Our Rethinking Diplomacy Program (RDP) had a successful semester. RDP is a DUCIGS signature idea incubator and forum for students, diplomats, faculty, and practitioners to explore, share, and promote new practices of diplomacy in the areas of science and technology, public health, trade/finance, climate change, water, cultural heritage, and environmental peacebuilding. The "Conversation with the Ambassador" special series was particularly stimulating, featuring the Ambassador of Mexico to the United States and the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico in two separate events. Two ongoing series, "Covid-19 & Global Supply Chains" and "Environmental Peacebuilding," organized in collaboration with partners at Duke and other institutions, continue to attract much interest. In 2021, we will continue to work with Duke units and outside partners on the critical issues of: science diplomacy, including health, environment, food, and water; trade and finance diplomacy; and cultural diplomacy.

RDP’s research and ideas have been featured in various outlets including an op-ed ("The State Department Needs More Scientists") in The Hill. Additionally, the new report by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard, A U.S. Diplomatic Service for the 21st Century, mentioned the work done by three RDP Fellows, former Ambassador Robert Pearson, former Ambassador Patrick Duddy, Dr. Benjamin L. Schmitt (Harvard University), and RDP Director, Prof. Giovanni Zanalda, emphasizing the need "to integrate science and technology into diplomacy, to recruit people with expertise in cyber, artificial intelligence, data analytics, and financial technologies."

More about Rethinking Diplomacy

John Hope Franklin | Global Anti-Racism Series

W@TC Banner


Another high point of the Fall was the debut of the special series: “JHF - Global Anti-Racism,” which grew out of our Wednesdays at the Center (W@TC) lecture series. Answering President Price's call for Duke to be an anti-racist institution, we looked to the work and legacy of Dr. John Hope Franklin to address issues of ongoing structural racism and inequality. The W@TC produced eight events in the Fall and will continue in Spring 2021 with a new lineup.

Take a look at this special series


Several Event flyers

In keeping with DUCIGS’ tradition of collaboration, we partnered with organizations both on and off campus for events, projects, and cross-promotion. Among the many highlights: the Environmental Peacebuilding in Colombia webinar series (co-sponsored with the Environmental Peacebuilding Association, Environmental Law Institute, and Global Green Growth Institute), a scholarly exploration of climate and history in Monsoon Asia (co-sponsored with Duke Kunshan University); an examination of post-Cold War global politics with Simon Miles; a dialogue with poets Cathy Park Hong & Caroline Randall Williams on Creating Black and Asian Alliances; a webinar with former mayor of Bogotá (and Duke alumnus) Enrique Peñalosa; and a China Town Hall discussion of U.S.-China science and technology cooperation.

Graduate Working Groups on Global Issues

Graduate working groups


DUCIGS remains committed to assisting students with their efforts to add international dimensions to their academic experience at Duke.

The Graduate Working Groups on Global Issues are interdisciplinary in membership and student-driven in design, spanning a variety of topics. The 2020-21 Graduate Working Groups on Global Issues, listed below, included nearly all of the groups from 2019-20 as well as two new groups:

  • Black Sound & the Archive
  • Corruption in Developing Countries
  • Decolonizing Global Health in LMICs
  • Duke Environmental Journal (new in 2020-21)
  • Global Perspectives on Artisanal & Small-Scale Gold Mining
  • Graduates Engineering and Researching Microbiomes (GERM)
  • Informed Choices for Equitable Development
  • Mammal Behavior and Conservation Group (new in 2020-21)
  • Moving Aesthetics of Empire
  • Ocean Policy
  • Slavery, War and Gender

This year, DUCIGS continued to support undergraduate and graduate students through its student research grants. These awards, given annually, promote student research on international topics.

Get to know our Graduate Working Groups.

Global Working Paper Series

Global Working Papers.

Our ongoing Global Working Paper Series, published through the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) platform, features four more publications on artificial intelligence (AI) based technologies, poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs), and utilities in Sub-Saharan Africa:

  • Developing an Aggregator Mechanism for Late-Stage Clinical Trials of Neglected Disease Product Candidates
  • Policy Approaches to Artificial Intelligence Based Technologies in China, European Union and the United States
  • The Economics of AI-Based Technologies: A Framework and an Application to Europe
  • Unlocking Utilities of the Future in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Read the working papers.

Venice International University


We are pleased to share the happy news that Venice International University (VIU), a unique international consortium founded by the late Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi on December 15, 1995, just celebrated its 25th anniversary. Duke is one of VIU’s original member universities, together with Ca ‘Foscari University of Venice, IUAV of Venice, Ludwig Maximilians Universität of Munich, and Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. Over time, VIU has expanded and now brings together over 20 universities and research centers from 15 countries spread over four continents: Waseda University, Tsinghua University, Korea University, the European University at St. Petersburg, Stellenbosch University, Boston College, University of Padova, Tor Vergata University of Rome, Tel Aviv University, KU Leuven, University of Bordeaux, University of Ljubljana, University of Exeter, University of Lausanne, Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (Canada), and the National Research Council (Italy).

VIU is committed to internationalization, interdisciplinarity and innovation. Students, faculty, and researchers from the participating universities have the opportunity to conduct research and training on some of today’s greatest global challenges including sustainable development, climate change, migration, conservation of cultural heritage, aging, and future of cities. Duke undergraduate and graduate students have enrolled in the Globalization Program, Ph.D. Academies, Graduate Seminars, and Winter and Summer Schools. Members of our faculty have actively participated in these activities and also engaged in research collaborations with colleagues from other member universities.

Learn more about VIU.

Check out more stories from the past semester in our News section.

collage of event flyers