Academic Themes

Academic Themes

Working with the Deans, faculty committees, and senior officers, the Provost develops the institution’s intellectual priorities and oversees the implementation of the following academic themes.  Each theme and its integration into curriculum and research is managed by a Vice Provost, with a reporting line to the Provost.


Duke’s reputation has been enhanced by its accomplishments in interdisciplinary studies; the interdisciplinary character of our institution attracts exceptional faculty and students, adds a critical dimension to teaching, promotes study at the frontiers of research, and aids Duke in its mission to provide knowledge in the service of society. Success in interdisciplinary studies requires collaboration across disciplines, schools, and interdisciplinary institutes; such collaborations have given rise to innovative initiatives in undergraduate and graduate education, and in faculty research and recruitment. University-wide Institutes and Centers and Initiatives – including Bass Connections, a university-wide educational initiative – are incubating some of Duke’s most exciting collaborative research and teaching initiatives, and are helping to catalyze Duke’s overarching goal of placing knowledge in service to society.  Learn more.


Duke realizes that to be a great university it must be an international university.   Nearly half of Duke students spend a semester or more outside the US, and our students come from more than 90 countries.  The Provost has spearheaded the creation of the Duke Global Health Institute, which works with partners in more than 80 countries worldwide to address global health challenges, and the Office of Global Affairs, which advances and promotes Duke’s global goals and activities.  The Provost has also helped develop Duke’s collaborative ventures in Singapore (Duke-NUS Medical School) and the Duke Kunshan University (DKU) Program Office, which coordinates the work of the various units and teams involved in the planning and implementation of DKU.  In addition, the Provost supports four initiatives – the Africa Initiative, the Global Asia Initiative, the India Initiative, and the Tropical Conservation Initiative – which bring faculty and students together from across campus around research topics and student engagement.   Learn more.

Knowledge in the Service of Society

While Duke continues to nurture and further scholarship for its intrinsic values, the University is broadening opportunities to apply knowledge in the service of society, strengthening the University’s engagement with real-world issues.  Through opportunities at home and abroad, such engagement with the world is seen as a natural extension of education and inquiry. Learn more.


Duke is committed to engagement – the idea that knowledge is often best gained by bringing what is learned in the classroom into contact with experience. In its teaching this means multiple opportunities for students to engage faculty members through small group or individual learning experiences in the classroom, laboratory and beyond, and through personalized advising. In university life outside the classroom, it means providing multiple opportunities for students to participate in programs like DukeEngage and Global Education for Undergraduates and a wealth of other civic engagement and clinical experiences and internships available to both undergraduates and graduate and professional students. In research it entails the university’s commitment to bringing its knowledge to the service of society and promoting innovation and entrepreneurship by students, faculty and staff.


Duke is one of the nation’s leading research universities.  In FY2012 Duke researchers spent just over $1.0 billion on their research efforts, a figure that has grown significantly over the past decade.  This research is conducted by hundreds of faculty throughout the university.  Over 80 percent of the research expenditures are associated with the School of Medicine, the remainder being split among the other schools, most significantly Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, the Pratt School of Engineering, the Nicholas School of the Environment, and the Sanford School of Public Policy.  Nationally, Duke ranked 5th in FY2011 (the most recent year for which such statistics are assembled by the National Science Foundation) among all U.S. colleges and universities in total research and development expenditures, and second only to Johns Hopkins among private institutions.  Duke has moved up substantially in this listing from a ranking of 17th in FY2002.  Duke also ranked first nationally for the twelfth consecutive year in the category of industry-sponsored research and development expenditures, much of which is associated with the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI).  Duke ranked 10th in federally sponsored research and development ($585 million).  In keeping with the university’s obligations under the Bayh-Dole Act, Duke is actively seeking to translate its basic scientific discoveries into commercial opportunities.  The university received $24.6 million in licensing and royalty income from patents in FY2012.  The above point to continued and robust growth of the research enterprise at Duke.  Learn more.