Duke Kunshan awarded UN fellowship to tackle global challenges

Duke Kunshan University stood out in a record-breaking year for entries to be selected for the Millennium Fellowship, a global initiative co-hosted by the United Nations aimed at empowering students to confront the world’s biggest challenges.

Twelve DKU undergraduates will join students from campuses across 37 countries for the semester-long leadership program presented by the U.N. Academic Impact initiative and Millennium Campus Network.

As Millennium Fellows, the thousands-strong group will work together on advancing the U.N.’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) and academic impact principles in sessions designed to equip them with the skills to address poverty, discrimination, climate change and other urgent global issues.

Duke Kunshan was among the 200 institutions chosen to send students to the program out of the more than 2,400 from 140 countries which applied. By landing the fellowships, the dozen DKU representatives ranked among the top 10 percent of all 31,397 student applicants.

The 12 fellows from DKU are: Faith Ho, Siran Luo, Shen Shen, Yanming Shen, Yutong Shi, Xinyue Wang, Ziyang Wang, Tianyu Wu, Zixuan Wu, Tianyi Zou, and twins Hongji Zou and Hongyi Zou.

“These students, through their hard work, are fulfilling the most fundamental goal of DKU — to prepare the next generation to solve global challenges,” said Meifang Chen, assistant professor of health policy at Duke Kunshan, who oversaw the successful fellowship bid.

As part of the application process, the students submitted social impact projects on topics including educational inequality, mental health stigmatization and female empowerment.

The fellowship, to be held over 10 virtual sessions during the fall semester, will help them advance their action plans through leadership training and peer collaboration.

Professor Meifang Chen

Hongyi Zou, one of Duke Kunshan’s two student campus directors for the initiative, said he is “beyond thrilled” at the university receiving the fellowship.

“I believe that the formidable challenge that urgently needs to be addressed in the education for sustainable development field is structural contradiction between the need for new types of education and the varying capability of societies to meet them, which entrench new types of educational inequalities,” said the senior student, who majors in political economy (public policy track).

Tianyu Wu, also a campus director and from the Class of 2023, hopes to connect with others on the pursuit of equal opportunity in cancer prevention.

“I am also looking forward to exploring any possible ways to collaborate with Millennium Fellows who have common interests to further evoke policymakers’ awareness of reducing inequalities, which I suggest to be one of the biggest challenges to enabling the realization of the U.N. SDGs.”

Tianyu Wu

Siran Luo, whose focus is on public health and female wellbeing, said the initiative “makes me more convinced that we are moving towards a better and healthier world”.

“I believe the urgent need of empowering women and integrating gender equality into every aspect is important to achieving SDGs,” added the Class of 2024 global health and public policy major.

“Women’s participation in all spheres of society is essential to make significant and lasting global changes, not only for females themselves but for everyone.”

“This scholarship is not only a recognition but also a responsibility,” said the Class of 2023’s Hongji Zou, who majors in political economy (public policy track).

“Tackling educational inequality is a daunting task that encompasses numerous challenges such as deeply rooted utilitarian notions of education.

“However, it is great to see that there are many young people like us who are committed to making society better.”

Zixuan Wu

Mental health campaigner Zixuan Wu, a junior majoring in global health and public policy, said being awarded the fellowship is a “great honor”.

“I feel that through this experience, I can further promote my mental health governance plan to the world,” she said.

“In my research field, mental health, as a sustainable goal of mankind, faces the most significant difficulty in that it still has much discrimination and stigmatization.”

Jennifer Francis, interim executive vice chancellor of Duke Kunshan, said the fellowship is a “tremendous honor and a wonderful opportunity for our students”.

“Through their work as Millennium Fellows, our students will have the opportunity to turn their creative and solutions-focused thinking towards the biggest global issues of today,” she added.

Duke Kunshan Chancellor Youmei Feng said the fellowship’s goals aligned with DKU’s own philosophy of sustainable development.

“I wish the Millennium Fellows the best of luck as they take on the significant tasks of being thinkers, promoters and practitioners of sustainable human development. The world will be a better place because of their efforts,” she said.

Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Scott MacEachern said, “Duke Kunshan strives to instill a commitment to service among all of our students, and I am very much looking forward to seeing what our Millennium Fellows accomplish, both on campus and in their future endeavors.”

Visit www.millenniumfellows.org to find out more about the program.

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Media Contact

Senior Editor/Writer

Gareth McPherson

Email: gareth.mcpherson@dukekunshan.edu.cn

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