About the Center


The John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies is a unique consortium of programs committed to revitalizing notions of how knowledge is gained and exchanged.

Participants from a broad range of disciplines converge to explore intellectual issues, including some of the most pressing social and political themes of our time: race and race relations, the legacy of the African-American experience, equality and opportunity among diverse populations, the implications of accelerated globalization. At its core, the Center claims an intrepid and daring mission: to bring together humanists and those involved in the social sciences in a setting that inspires vigorous scholarship and imaginative alliances. In this way, historians, artists, literary scholars, and philosophers contribute to a rich understanding of moral and ethical issues.

Inspired by the example of John Hope Franklin–Duke professor emeritus, historian, intellectual leader, and lifelong civil rights activist–the Franklin Center embraces a creative cross-pollination of ideas, perspectives, and methodologies. Using such sophisticated resources as multimedia and high-speed videoconferencing, the Franklin Center employes advanced technologies not only as a means to an end, but as objects of critical inquiry themselves. These striking new directions in higher education require the marriage of philosophical imagination and pragmatic design.

The Franklin Center fosters fresh approaches to scholarship and learning while offering stimulating opportunities to the larger community. An undergraduate might find herself engaged in an impromptu lunch conversation with a respected academician about immigration and ethnicity. A graduate student may join a real-time virtual conference on medical ethics taking place simultaneously in three different time zones. A faculty member might learn from one of Durham’s leaders about the rich history of a city once renowned as the “Black Wall Street.” On the bus line and within walking distance to other parts of Duke’s campuses, the Center is easily accessible to residents from the Durham and Triangle area, who are invited to participate in and experience workshops, lectures, exhibits, and other public events. A monthly brown bag lunch series invites community leaders to share insights and expertise on matters of local and universal consequence.

In sum, the Franklin Center seeks to meld past knowledge and present questions, international perspectives and local concerns, timeless scholarship and timely issues.