Event Report on Innovations in Museum Experiences Through Extended Reality: Dr. Yue Li’s Insights

On Thursday, October 26th, 2023, DKU Humanities Research Center (HRC) sponsored an enlightening talk by Dr. Yue Li, titled “Museum Collections in Extended Reality: Explorations on 3D Artifact Interaction and Manipulation Techniques in Virtual Reality and Tangible Interfaces using Augmented Reality.” This Zoom event, organized and hosted by Dr. Xin Tong from HRC’s Anthropocene XR Lab, garnered significant interest, attracting an audience of 35 attendees from diverse backgrounds who are DKU faculty and students.

Dr. Yue Li embarked on an in-depth exploration of the intersection between extended reality (XR) technologies and museum experiences. Her presentation centered on the transformative potential of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) in enhancing the accessibility and interactivity of museum collections. She delved into the nuances of various interaction and manipulation techniques in VR, such as controller-based and hand-tracking interactions, alongside direct and indirect manipulation methods.

The audience, open to the public, engaged actively with Dr. Li, discussing the implications of these XR technologies for future museum design, cultural heritage learning, and museum gifting. The interactive session reflected a keen interest in how XR could revolutionize our interaction with history and culture in educational and recreational contexts.

Event Report on HRC Anthropocene XR Lab Guest Talk Series: Understanding, Predicting, and Enhancing User Behavior in Mixed Reality by Dr. Yukang Yan

On November 17th, Dr. Yukang Yan, an Assistant Professor at the University of Rochester, presented an engaging talk titled “Understand, Predict, and Enhance User Behavior in Mixed Reality.” This virtual Zoom event, organized by Dr. Xin Tong and hosted by Dr. Charles Chang from DKU HRC Anthropocene XR Lab, delved into the evolving realm of human-computer interaction in Mixed Reality (MR).

Dr. Yan’s research focuses on the intersection of digital and physical realities through MR, shedding light on its profound impact on user perception and interaction. He emphasized the shift in user interaction beyond traditional screens, highlighting the importance of understanding and adapting to these changes. The talk detailed his approach to observing and modeling the behavioral and perceptual patterns of users in MR environments. Dr. Yan’s user studies form the basis for developing innovative interaction techniques tailored to these behavioral shifts. Additionally, Dr. Yan explored augmentation methods that enable users to exceed their real-world capabilities, such as embodying virtual avatars that offer unique experiences not possible in reality. His work on embodying healthier or non-humanoid avatars in MR environments sparked intriguing discussions among the audience.

The talk attracted a diverse group of over 15 attendees from the DKU community, who are interested in the latest developments in human-computer interaction and Mixed Reality. Dr. Yan’s insights provided a comprehensive understanding of current trends and future possibilities in MR, stimulating thoughtful discussions and questions from the audience.

Student Report on “Repositioning Women in Buddhist History: Roles and agency of Buddhist nuns in republican Sichuan”

Reported by Lia Smith, Class of 2026

This lecture was a part of Gender Studies Initiative’s event series. Each event connects gender to a range of topics where gender, sexuality, and feminism are discussed. The topic of this lecture was to unravel patriarchal historical narratives that focused on men, and to reposition women into the historical perspective.

This event brought Professor Stefania Travagnin to DKU for a lecture on the repositioning of women and nuns in Buddhist history in republican Sichuan. She specifically uses the term ‘women’ to include nuns that were part of the nun community, but were not officially ordained, hence being a significantly overlooked group within this area of research.

Professor Travagnin started her research off with looking at documents, but realized that official documentation didn’t focus on nunneries, so she opted for an ethnographic research method instead where she looked at unpublished documents, pagodas, gravestone inscriptions, looking around the nunnery temples, looking at legends that are related to the temple, and finally listening to the oral historical narratives of those that are connected to this community within Chengdu. She explains that there is a lack of representation of women as leaders within Buddhist narrative, and this is especially true in the context of republican Sichuan, due to some nuns not being ordained particularly in the 80’s.

Small temples were a main point of reference to look at the impact of women in these nunneries on their surrounding communities and religious life. Though many may assume that due to less resources in smaller temples, their impact would be smaller, however, small temples play a key part in the religious community. When people in the community want to understand and learn about Buddhism, they want to go to the small temples, because the big temples aren’t able to cater to individuals as well as the smaller temples. These small temples have smaller and closer community in contrast to the larger and more prominent temples.

She introduces a theoretical framing of taking peripheries as new centers in research, where we can change invisibility from something that is not value, and something that has a negative connotation to redefine this term into (in)visibility, something that is powerful and positive, using their invisibility to their advantage. She states that the process of repositioning has the ability to change narratives from a dogmatic one to a loose one. Creating and encouraging historical inquiry could shake the traditional notions.

Event Report: The Professional Divide Between Writing & Language Studies in the US: History, Epistemology, and Implications for DKU

On Friday Nov. 2nd, the Third Space Lab (TSL) invited Prof. Tyler Carter from the Language and Culture Center to give a talk at the Brown Bag Lunch Talk event.

Dr. Carter provided an overview of the socio-historical development of English writing and foreign language instruction in the U.S with a focus on the development of the process approach to writing instruction, the audio-lingual approach to language instruction, and a series of key historical events in US higher education reform during the 1960’s. This talk was based on his newly published paper “Apples and Oranges: Toward a Comparative Rhetoric of Writing Instruction and Research in the United States” in College English. As an addendum to the talk, Laura Davies from the Language and Culture Center offered her perspectives on the British system of writing and language and the implication for the DKU context.

The event was well received by the audience, including more than 30 faculty, student and staff members of the DKU community. The speakers and the audience engaged in an excellent discussion of how the different developmental trajectories of wiring and language studies across the globe have an impact on the ideologies,  pedagogical practices, and professional advancement of faculty in and beyond the DKU context. The event was organized and hosted by Prof. Zhang Xin, assistant professor of Chinese and Intercultural Communication, and co-sponsored by the Humanities Research Center (HRC) and the Language and Culture Center (LCC).

Report on Reading Group for “Embracing Diversity: Developing Cultural Competence for Inclusive Education”

On Friday, November 10, 2023, DKU faculty, staff, and students were invited to our second reading group on “Embracing Diversity: Developing Cultural Competence for Inclusive Education”. This time, our discussion focused on Nuno Nodin’s “Queering the Curriculum. Reflections on LGBT+ Inclusivity in Higher Education.” This text was selected for two main reasons. First, it underscores the challenges that (LGBT+) students and staff still face regarding acceptance and integration, potentially influencing their learning and teaching experiences. Second, the text discusses the relevance of LGBT+ inclusivity in pedagogy and how it can be incorporated into higher education, providing examples from a specific discipline.

Around 18 participants, including both familiar faces and newcomers, attended the reading group event. Through the one-hour session, DKU faculty members and students shared personal encounters and anecdotes related to their experiences with the LGBT+ community. They discussed how their attitudes toward their “coming out” professors and students changed before and after reading the text. The sharing of personal experiences and anecdotes sparked discussions and raised awareness of the risks that LGBTQ+ students and staff face when trying to be themselves and coming out in professional space. Furthermore, the participating students shared their opinions on the inclusive pedagogies they would prefer their professors to adopt in class. Although there was not enough time to discuss the last question: What are your recommendations on how DKU can foster a more inclusive environment, encouraging understanding and empathy among both students and faculty members?, we plan to continue these conversations in our future events.

The event was organized by Zhenjie Weng, Assistant Professor of English Language Education, and Yanan Zhao, Senior Lecturer of English for Academic Purposes, from the Language and Culture Center. The event was sponsored by the Humanities Research Center, covering the fees for event promotion and refreshments for attendees.