Urban Religion Reading Group First Discussion | The Souls of China: The Return of Religion after Mao by Ian Johnson

Thursday 11 February 09:00 China Time (20:00 EST February 10)

Zoom ID : 975 8445 4966

Passcode: 170411

About the speaker:

Ian Johnson has been engaged with China for the past thirty-five years, writing on long-term social issues such as the country’s search for faith and values, as well as political challenges including efforts to control dissent and history. His most recent book, The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao was named by The Economist and Christian Science Monitor as one of the best books of the year. The online version of the book can be found on Duke library.

About Urban Religion Reading Group:

Urban religion reading group is a reading group on the theme of “Religions and Cities” broadly conceived. In recent years, with the rapid urbanization processes, increaing  academic interests have been turned to religious groups, organizations, sites and practices in the city. This reading group would serve as a portal through which faculty and students alike can engage in direct conversation and exchange with the most current scholarship on religions and cities. In the Spring 2021 semester, four reading group discussions would be held. People will read one book for each discussion, and the author of that book would be invited to join the live discussion.

In this discussion, the chair will first introduce the author and the book briefly and ask the author about the background and the origin of the book, then the floor will be open for discussion. Everyone is welcome to prepare a set of questions or comments for people to discuss. While it would be helpful to read the book before this discussion, everyone who is interested in the topic is welcome to join no matter if you have read the book.

Interdisciplinary Knowledge Network Lab

The Humanities Research Center is pleased to announce the establishment of an Interdisciplinary Knowledge Network Lab, to be co-sponsored by the Humanities Research Center and the Data Science Research Center.

All faculty, staff and students are invited to an information session on Wednesday February 24 from 3-4pm in IB2025 (the recording is now available to watch online). A Zoom link will be provided to those who register for the event and are off campus. To register for the information session please fill out the survey here or scan the QR code.


The Interdisciplinary Knowledge Network Lab (IKNL) is proposed as a collaborative network to facilitate research into knowledge architecture, metaknowledge, epistemology, semantic processing, knowledge network analysis and knowledge visualization at DKU. Researchers will use big data analysis, philosophical inquiry, and digital humanities methods to investigate how knowledge is structured, represented, analyzed, modeled, theorized and visualized. They will also draw on emerging research in biosemantics regarding the neurological structures that enable linguistic processing to take place in the brain. In addition to these broad theoretical issues in knowledge architecture and engineering, the lab will aim to make a concrete contribution to the analysis and visualization of knowledge production at DKU, Duke or other universities. These include:

  • tools to assess how universities’ research and teaching missions are aligned
  • methods to assess what universities are contributing to the development of human knowledge
  • applications for analyzing, classifying and visualizing knowledge production at universities
  • proposals for how knowledge can be related, synthesized, recombined, or repurposed across disciplines and fields

At the same time, as a vertically-integrated lab, students at various stages in their careers will work with faculty at various stages of their careers in order to share ideas, and build a research and training cluster that will support the mission of the whole university in terms of knowledge innovation and scientific discovery.

Reading Group

The lab will recruit students at an orientation session on February 24. Lab members will then meet weekly in session four in a reading group to deepen their interdisciplinary knowledge in areas related to lab’s mission. These could  include:

  • algorithms for natural language processing and semantic analysis in English and Chinese
  • taxonomy of knowledge as trees, hierarchies, networks or other structures
  • visualization of knowledge networks
  • network models
  • analysis of research paper metadata, citations etc
  • development of applications for academic institutional assessment and analysis
  • biosemantics and cognitive neuroscience
  • social / political implications of the above

This process of building up a cross-disciplinary body of research and training at DKU will enable to lab to support the development of signature work projects in Data Science, Computation and Design, Ethics and Leadership, and Behavioral Science. It will also support the work of faculty researchers whose work lies at the intersection of philosophy of mind, neuroscience, data science, ethics and society. Towards the end of the spring semester the lab members will work on the development of specific research projects and seek funding to carry them out beginning in the summer and fall.

Core Leaders

Charles Chang, Assistant Professor of Environment and Urban Studies

Prof. Chang’s research interest hinges on the intersections between computation and design. With the rise of smartphones and other internet-connected devices, design choices become increasingly data-driven and dependent on information’s credibility in the construction of the human habitat. Chang’s research focuses on human habitat design, environmental impact, and information credibility in the big-data age. His teaching interests at Duke Kunshan include computational social science, digital humanities, and urban informatics.

Wanying He, (student co-director), DKU’22

Wanying He is an undergraduate of the class of 2022 majoring in Data Science. Her research interests lie in knowledge architecture, natural language processing, semantic analysis and modeling, and the theory and practice of interdisciplinarity.

Sze Chai Kwok, Associate Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience

Prof. Kwok’s research lies at the intersection among neuroscience, behavior, and psychology. He is head of the Laboratory of Phylo-Cognition and his research team studies the neural bases of episodic memory, metacognition, and other related higher cognitive processes in the primate species. Elucidation of such intricate brain/mind/behavior relationships is attained by armamentaria of methods including multimodal neuroimaging, in vivo electrophysiology, neuromodulatory methods, state-of-the-art behavioral paradigms and computational techniques. His teaching interests at Duke Kunshan include topics within cognitive neuroscience, behavioral sciences, and psychology.

James Miller (faculty co-director), Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Strategy

James Miller is known worldwide as a scholar of Daoism and Ecology. He has published three monographs and four edited volumes, and his writing has been translated into Chinese, Korean, Italian, Portuguese and Farsi. He is Professor of Humanities, co-director of the Humanities Research Center, and Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Strategy at Duke Kunshan University.

Ivan Mura, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Ivan Mura has a computer science background and a passion for interdiscilinary applications of modeling. His research interests focus on techniques and applications of predictive and prescriptive data analytics to artificial and living systems, and the integration of measurement data into axiomatic modeling.

Daniel Weissglass, Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Daniel Weissglass has two major research programs: the fundamentals of cognition; and science, health, and technology policy. The fundamentals of cognition program explores intersections between philosophy and the cognitive sciences to improve our understanding of the mind and its operations. His science, health, and technology policy research explores ethical, epistemic, and political challenges arising from contemporary advances in technology and develops policy recommendations to address these challenges.


To register for. the information session please fill out the survey here or scan the QR code.

Spring into Literature Reading Series Present BRANDON SHIMODA

12PM Thursday 4 February

IB 2025 / Zoom: 614 954 2152

Brandon Shimoda is an award-winning poet and non-fiction writer. His most recent books are The Grave on the Wall (City Lights, 2019), a lyric portrait of his grandfather which received the PEN Open Book Award, and The Desert (The Song Cave, 2018). His next book, on the afterlife of Japanese American incarceration, received a Creative Nonfiction Grant from the Whiting Foundation, and is forthcoming from City Lights. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.

At Thursday’s event, he will read sections from The Grave on the Wall and discuss the book’s unique overlay of memoir, history, photography, and lyricism. He will also talk about his research process and the book’s “remarkable exploration of how citizenship is forged by the brutal U.S. imperial forces,” as poet Don Mee Choi writes, as well as answer student questions.

Media and Arts Speaker Series | Unfamiliar Convenience: Dissecting Haunted Everyday Technologies as Attitude

The Media & Arts Speaker series at Duke Kunshan University is a bi-weekly event that invites leading practitioners in media and arts to speak about their work and practice and engage with our DKU community.

The third miniseries of talks looks at the concept of the lab, both as a philosophy and a methodology to see how these innovative approaches have impacted and transformed the production of culture, art and society.

The lecture scheduled on Friday November 13th, 2020 at 6pm China Central time features the artist and Head of Research at Chronus Art Center Lab Vytautas. This series is organized and hosted by Prof. Vivian Xu and Prof. Benjamin Bacon, and supported by Arts and Humanities and the Humanities Research Center at Duke Kunshan University. This event is open to the public.

6pm China time, Friday January 29th, 2021 / 5am EST

Location: Duke Kunshan Innovation Building 1046

Zoom: 262-835-7204

Continue reading “Media and Arts Speaker Series | Unfamiliar Convenience: Dissecting Haunted Everyday Technologies as Attitude”

The Thursday Night Tea Research Group Event Report | Dating Apps and Intimacy with Dalia Othman

By Anisha Joshi

Class of 2022

What does intimacy look like in a society where romantic interactions are so mediated by AI and dating apps? For the first workshop on intimacy, in a four-part series organized by the Thursday Night Tea Research Group, Dalia Othman discussed how some of these dating apps work, and what determines the connections they facilitate. Othman is the founder of Jeem.me, an Arabic language website that produces knowledge on gender, sex and sexuality beyond the mainstream, and her research interests encompass gender and technology, and online activism.

While we may be prone to thinking of online dating as a relatively new development, Othman highlighted how the first attempts to match humans through computers was in the 1960s. However, it was starting from the 2000s that these dating apps and sites took off along with the internet.

Over the past few decades, the number of people who have been meeting online has greatly risen in comparison to through their social circles. ‘Today there are millions of people who use these dating apps, and they’re in search for plenty of different things,’ Othman said, ‘But at the end of the day, it is really chiefly for emotional and physical connection.’ Continue reading “The Thursday Night Tea Research Group Event Report | Dating Apps and Intimacy with Dalia Othman”

Film Screening with Filmmaker | NOWHERE TO CALL HOME

Time and Date: 7:00pm, Wednesday January 20 (6:00am EST)
Venue: IB-1008 (IB-Auditorium)
Zoom ID: 530.394.0458

NOWHERE TO CALL HOME provides a rare glimpse into the world of a Tibetan woman without her hukou, torn between her traditional way of life and her desire for her son to have a better future in the city. Shot in the hutongs of Beijing and a remote village near the epicenter of Tibetan self-immolations, this gripping story of a woman determined to beat the odds puts a human face on the political strife that fractures China and Tibet. Along the way it challenges common Western stereotypes about Tibetans, and reveals a dark side of life in a traditional village, where, as the saying goes, ‘women aren’t worth a penny.’

The Thursday Night Tea Research Group | DATING APPS with Dalia Othman

Thursday January 21, 7-8:30pm CST / 6-7:30am EST
On Campus: IB 1010
Zoom: 298 656 1787

In this workshop—the first of a four-part series organized by the Thursday Night Tea Research Group on the topic of intimacy—we will be talking about what hides behind the dating apps: how do they determine who we date? Is it all a game of profit? Are they bringing us closer together or driving us further apart? All are welcome to join!

Dalia Othman is the founder of Jeem.me, an Arabic language website producing knowledge on topics related to gender, sex and sexuality. Her research on gender and tech, and online activism has benefited from Fellowships at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and MIT’s Center for Civic Media, among others. She holds an MA from NYU’s Media and Culture and Communication program.

Spring Writing Retreat

During the break between the two Spring sessions, the Humanities Research Center and the Center for the Study of Contemporary China will collaborate to offer an intensive writing retreat from Monday 15 to Friday 19 March. The aim is to offer time and space for DKU faculty to make serious progress on an important project and to foster interdisciplinary dialogue and discussion.

The retreat will take place in a quiet location (TBD) in Jiangsu not too far from Kunshan. Transport from and to DKU, meals, and accommodation will be provided by the two research centers. Faculty are expected to work on their writing projects during the day. An optional light exercise activity such as a walking tour will be offered in the afternoon. Faculty will be grouped into small thematic clusters and invited to discuss their research with their colleagues after dinner in the evening. Each center will fund eight to ten faculty, who will be expected to participate for the full five days.


All DKU faculty working on writing projects broadly related to arts and humanities, interpretive social sciences or contemporary China are eligible to apply. Faculty working on equivalent projects in creative arts, such as editing a film, are also eligible to apply. Priority will be given to tenure-track professors who will make substantial progress on an project relevant to their eventual tenure application. Other applications will be considered if space permits.

Application Process

Applications are due via Qualtrics form by January 31. Faculty will be asked to briefly describe their project, its state of completion, its significance for their research career, and the concrete goals that they hope to achieve by the end of the retreat. Decisions will be made by the center directors and announced within one week.

Further Information

For further information, please contact James Miller, co-director of the Humanities Research Center, or Keping Wu, co-director of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China.

Third Space Lab Brown Bag Lunch Research Talk: Languages, Cultures and Intercultural Communication

Third Space lab (TSL) invites you to attend the third brown bag lunch research talk by Dr. Christopher Van Velzer (Global Education) on Beyond Global Rhetoric: What (and Where) is Global Learning in Praxis? at 1:30pm on Friday Dec.11, 2020 (China Standard Time)

Please RSVP by 5 pm China Standard Time Thursday Dec. 10 :

Location: CC 1095. Zoom link will be sent to remote participant. Bring your own lunch and enjoy the inspiring conversation! Light snacks and bubble tea provided—please be sure to RSVP.

The TSL brown bag lunch research talk is open to all members of the DKU community who are interested in discussing and engaging in a conversation about research projects, either a published work or a work-in-progress, broadly related to languages, cultures and intercultural communication.

If you are interested in participating either as a speaker or as audience, please fill out this survey with your availability and potential topics/work you’d be interested in discussing: https://duke.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bj9cfFmbMBwF80Z. Students speakers are welcome but are encouraged to consult the TSL co-directors first. We will arrange in-person and hybrid sessions depending on the responses. Contact Thirdspacelab@dukekunshan.edu.cn or Dr. Zhang Xin (xz261@duke.edu) for inquires.