Graduate Seminars on Global Issues

In the mid-1990s, the Ford Foundation funded Duke University to establish programs that focused on interdisciplinary training for graduate students. The Duke University Center for International Studies has supervised the program nearly from the beginning, and long after the funds from the Ford Foundation were expended.

Our goals have been to bring together graduate and professional students from across disciplines and world areas into shared discussions of a common theme and to offer the students the chance to manage their own programs. While DUCIS provides an administrator for support, organizational responsibility rests with the student groups themselves. From the start we have operated two or three working groups annually – some lasting for years, others for three or four semesters. Their selected topics or themes have ranged from development from below to global health. In the future we hope to raise additional funds to allow us to meet the demand from students for additional working groups. DUCIS selects the themes each year on a competitive basis from student submissions.

While the core of each working group within the Graduate Seminars on Global Issues is a dinner meeting and discussion, held roughly four times each semester and often with invited speakers, most groups take on – and are encouraged to do so – additional activities. Collateral projects have ranged from large conferences to social activism in the Durham community. Seminar leaders and members often take on larger campus roles and do much to encourage undergraduate activity.

General information can be obtained by contacting the staff coordinator: Nancy Hare Robbins –

Note: All Duke-affiliated graduate and professional students who participate regularly in a working group will be eligible to apply for DUCIS summer research & training funding support. For more information about DUCIS summer grant opportunities, see: