Season Finale! Third Space Lab Brown Bag Lunch Research Talk: Laura Davies

You are cordially invited to attend the TSL Brown Bag Lunch Research Talk season finale by Laura Davies on Intercultural engagement at Duke Kunshan University: an evaluation of first year student experience and perception in times of restricted mobility at 3:30 pm on Friday Dec. 10th, 2021 (China Standard Time).

Location: CC 1095
Zoom link will be sent to remote participants. Snacks and bubble tea provided—please be sure to RSVP.

Please RSVP by 5 pm China Standard Time Thursday Dec. 9th :


Since January 2020, COVID 19 has gradually swept across the planet, tumultuously influencing people’s  lives and normalcy. At the forefront of the pandemic, China was first affected with mass closure rolled out during a national holiday, resulting in dispersion of university populations. According to UNESCO (2020), over a billion learners have been affected worldwide by COVID-19, with campus-wide closures and enforcement of physical distancing. Over 18 months on, many international students, faculty and staff have been unable to return to China due to government restrictions resulting in mass disruption to the teaching and learning experience.  At the heart of the Sino-Joint Venture University experience lies cross cultural interaction and intercultural engagement, yet, with non-domestic students largely remaining overseas, the extent of ongoing intercultural engagement is questionable.

This research aims to evaluate the first year student experience and intercultural engagement at Duke Kunshan University (DKU) during times of restricted mobility, to identify the extent of the pandemic’s impact on the student experience. Semi-structured interviews with four first year Chinese students located on campus, and four first year international students (n=8) located across the world were conducted. After thematic analysis, results identify satisfaction with the overall student experience, with humility and understanding for unprecedented circumstances. They also highlight a gap between first year students’ expected intercultural engagement and their actual experiences. DKU need to address this gap in order to achieve their mission, strategic objectives, and provide opportunities for intercultural interaction enabling intercultural engagement to flourish. This can be achieved by taking steps to minimize the formation of cultural and linguistic silos (Block, 2007; Terzuolo, 2018), and ensuring the university community have sufficient and stimulating opportunities to connect through accessible platforms and structured activities to reduce feelings of isolation. Holding an in person reorientation programme once restrictions ease proved to be a popular recommendation, and student initiated recommendations also provide action points for imminent implementation by the university.




The TSL brown bag lunch research talk is open to all members of the DKU community and beyond who are interested in 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: contact Dr. Zhang Xin (