USC in venture to strengthen Chinese connections

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USC Professor Catherine Manathunga

With increased focus on Australia-China relations, a USC Education researcher is spearheading an international project to advance collaboration and engagement between the two nations.

USC Professor of Education Research Catherine Manathunga is a chief investigator of the project aiming to increase the intercultural and multilingual capabilities of Australian research supervisors, Chinese research students and Chinese tertiary educators.

“A key goal of the two-year research project is to build ongoing, sustainable educational connectivity between China and Australia,” Professor Manathunga said.

China is already a significant trading partner and Chinese students represent the largest single population of international students studying in Australia, contributing greatly to the nation’s third largest export industry.

“Many Australian supervisors have little knowledge of Chinese intellectual history or Chinese students’ multilingual capabilities,” Professor Manathunga said.

“As a result, it is vital that we increase bilateral knowledge collaboration, educational connectivity and cultural engagement.”

The project team includes Dr Qi Jing from RMIT University, USQ Professor Tracey Bunda and Western Sydney University Professor Michael Singh.

Research will be undertaken with Chinese students and supervisors in Australia to create and trial five training modules to prepare Chinese students for doctoral study in Australia and enhance the China literacy of Australian supervisors and universities.

In the second year, prototype training materials will be piloted with 40 doctoral supervisors and students from universities in Beijing and Changchun.

An additional 20 Chinese educators will be trained in using the modules, and briefing sessions will be held with the Australian Council of Graduate Research and the Chinese Society of Academic Degrees and Graduate Education.

“The modules will explore Chinese and Australian history and culture, multilingual knowledge co-construction, doctoral supervisory relationships and time mapping, where supervisors will construct and display representations of their work with students,” she said.

“These creations will be displayed in art exhibitions in Sydney, Beijing and Changchun as an innovative method of university and local community outreach to generate excitement and energy around the project.”

The initiative has secured a research grant from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Australia-China Council.

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