Director's Welcome

Welcome to the Duke Graduate Liberal Studies! I am so pleased to have the opportunity to lead this vibrant community as your director. If you talk to our students and alumni, you will realize that Duke GLS is one of the most flexible, exciting, supportive, and enriching spaces within the university. What GLS is is really what you, as an individual student, need for it to be. For example, it can be: 

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  • a space to explore “what comes next” in life when you don’t know the path
  • a place to combine interests that don’t always get put together
  • a place to dive into subjects earlier education did not make space for
  • a place to hone writing, research, analytical, creative, digital, or other skills
  • a place to work on personal or professional intellectual projects under the guidance of experienced scholars
  • a place to grow and think with a diverse group of other motivated learners
  • a “bridge” between several phases of learning and professional development
  • a place that is friendly to different life circumstances
  • a place to wade back into formal education if it's been awhile
  • a place for people comfortable with charting their own professional and intellectual courses.

When I joined GLS in the summer of 2019, I realized that I was drawn here for many of the same reasons our students come. As I sought a new professional position, this was just the kind of place I had hoped might exist: one where a flexible-minded and inquisitive history Ph.D./ higher education professional / public historian / teacher / writer / scholar / digital humanist might be able to bring her whole, authentic self to the work at hand; one where seeing (and seeking) connections rather than emphasizing divisions would be welcomed; one where someone who has not followed the “usual” path might be embraced. Like many of you, I may not have known that liberal studies was what I sought. But when I got here, I knew it felt right.

Is GLS right for you? Check out the rest of our website, join us for an upcoming information session, or contact us directly to learn more.

I look forward to talking with you soon.

Warm regards,


Anne Mitchell Whisnant, Ph..D.
Director, Duke Graduate Liberal Studies
Adjunct Associate Professor, Duke Social Science Research Institute
Public Historian