On November 17th, 2023, the Sustainable DKU student club released Duke Kunshan University’s first-ever sustainability report at the Duke International Forum (DIF). The DIF is an annual event organized by Duke Kunshan University since 2015. Every year, the DIF involves policymakers, business executives, investors, entrepreneurs, scientists, and engineers to discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with a selected topic that is impacting our global world. This year, the DIF focused on the theme of climate and sustainability. The objective was to foster close collaborations among Duke, DKU, and other entities in the US and China in climate and sustainability to make a decisive contribution to the global green transition and the sustainable development goals.

This year’s DIF took place on DKU’s newly opened Phase II campus and welcomed leaders and experts from Duke University and Wuhan University.

Starting in the summer of 2022 with a team of 16 undergraduate student volunteers and the support of five faculty under the Environmental Research Center, namely Professor Coraline Goron, Professor Chuanhui Gu, Professor Song Gao, Professor Richer, and Professor Ka Leung Lam, as well as DKU Operations, Sustainable DKU investigated and analyzed DKU’s baseline data in five different sustainability areas, namely energy, air quality, water, food and waste, in Phase I. On this basis, the report provides recommendations to DKU to improve the sustainability of its campus even further.

Sustainable DKU’s President and Vice President, Emerson Meeks and Weijia Zhang, presenting at the DIF.

As one of three student project presentations at the DIF, this sustainability report highlighted the importance of student work within the university, as well as the importance of focusing on sustainability at the institutional level. DKU students have actively promoted sustainability via various means; for example, Sustainable DKU is a student-led initiative that promotes sustainable living, raises an educated and informed generation, and creates an international, interdisciplinary platform to solve environmental issues. Over the past few years, Sustainable DKU has organized and led in-person, hybrid, and online speaker events, workshops, competitions, and informational campaigns to promote environmental, economic, and social sustainability.

Sustainable DKU club logo

Creating the report required a sustained commitment through several phases, consisting of a background literature review, multiple rounds of bilingual interviews with DKU Operations, DKU Dining, and DKU Environmental Health and Safety, drafting and faculty revision, photography and design, editing and publication. Through the hard work of student volunteers, faculty, and staff, the creation of DKU’s first-ever sustainability report will add to the conversation of prioritizing sustainability in campus operations, education, and DKU-wide policy and choices.

DKU’s first-ever sustainability report
(Click picture to read the full report)

The report included thematic recommendations, as well as institutional-level recommendations.


Air Quality




In addition, the authors proposed three university-wide recommendations. First, the DKU administration, in consultation with key community partners, should set campus-wide sustainability goals such as climate net-zero targets. Secondly, DKU should track all relevant data and analyze it regularly to inform decisions on campus. Finally, DKU should consider creating a sustainability office, as coordinating sustainability actions on campus, analyzing data, and reporting on the progress toward DKU’s future goals will require dedicated, full-time professionals.

To read the full report, please scan the QR code below / click on the URL: https://newstatic.dukekunshan.edu.cn/dkumain/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/22095841/2022-DKU-Sustainability-Report-FINAL-14.11.pdf

Project Co-leaders: Emerson Meeks and Wynona Curaming.

Student authors: Emerson Meeks, Wynona Curaming, Weijia Zhang, Echo Gong, Xiaoyi Kuang, Aisha Shen, Isabella Kroon, Soham Dorle, Max Huang, Anthony Liao-Yates, Aicha Slaitane, Yitong Su, Maya Slack, Chenyu Liu, Ace Asim, & Jaden Chee