One Outcome of the Haiti Lab: Tibetan Language Classes

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Thursday, March 21, 2013
Humanities Writ Large

One sign of the success of Duke's Haiti Lab is that students at Duke will soon be able to study Tibetan. What do an island in the French Caribbean and a language spoken in central Asia have to do with each other? According to a story in Duke Today, starting in Fall 2013 Duke students will be able to study the Tibetan language with faculty and students at the University of Virginia, and UVA students will be able to study Haitian Creole with faculty and students at Duke. At Duke, Creole language courses have gained a foothold due to the success of the Haiti Lab. At UVA, the Tibetan Center was founded in 2008 to examine that language and culture.

Dean Laurie Patton of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences explained that "we're protecting languages that are very much a part of our global culture but aren't necessarily the first you would take in a Western academic curriculum" and that "in this economic climate, might not otherwise be sustained."

"Less commonly taught languages are no less important for being infrequently taught," said Meredith Jung-En Woo, UVA's Buckner W. Clay Dean of Arts & Sciences. "This is an example of the type of intellectual leadership universities can offer that is cost effective and therefore isn't driven only by the single criteria of enrollment."

Duke officials hope to expand the program to include other languages and other interested universities.

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