Activities | Duke Kunshan University


The center organizes a variety of activities to promote undergraduate learning at the university and sponsors academic colloquia and conferences open to the general public.


Undergraduate Learning

The center creates undergraduate learning experiences that connect the empirical social science research process with knowledge produced from it.

Freshman Orientation to Social Science (FOSS)

Duke Kunshan University’s first Freshman Orientation to Social Science happens on 28 September 2018. FOSS is a teaching session, which introduces freshmen to fundamental concerns, burning research questions, and the practical process of producing knowledge. It offers undergraduate students the opportunity to learn the steps of conducting rigorous and systematic research in social science.

The 2018 FOSS starts at 9:00 a.m. and finishes at 4:00 p.m. It consists of three 45-minute topic modules and one keynote presentation over lunch. This year’s FOSS focuses substantively on gender inequality in China. Three Duke Kunshan University professors tackle the topic from the perspective of their different social science disciplines. Professor Andrew MacDonald introduces the experiment as the gold standard in social science research. He presents research examples from studies of gender inequality in the workplace. Professor Mengqi Wang focuses on qualitative research methods. She will talk about doing ethnography on topics of gender and housing in contemporary China. Professor Yu Wang gives an overview of survey methods in social science. She presents applications of survey data in gender inequality studies. In her keynote presentation, Professor Cai Zuo, Associate Professor of Political Science at Fudan University, author of Trade-offs and Developments in Research Methods of Political Science, talks about her own social science research experience.

Who is eligible to register?

The orientation is designed for Duke Kunshan University freshman with an interest in social science. It is free to the university’s students, but the number of places is limited. Pre-registration is required. Students receive course materials and a class schedule by e-mail after successful registration online. 

When and how to register?

Registration deadline: 16 September 2018

Use this link to register:

Other questions?

Contact Chi Zhang at


Undergraduate Poster Exhibition and Competition

The center’s first sponsored undergraduate poster exhibition on contemporary Chinese affairs happens on 22 April 2019. Students present research results from course papers, signature works, capstone projects, or other educational experiences. Cash prizes in the amounts of $100 for first place, $75 for second place, and $50 for third place are awarded to three posters that are particularly excellent in content, design, and oral presentation. 

Why submit a poster?

The poster exhibition offers you opportunities to share your research product with your peers and professors at the university. It allows you to practice your skills in summarizing, advertising, and visual and oral presentation. It teaches you how to communicate your research with other scholars in a professional manner. It is also an opportunity to collect comments to strengthen your work. Not least of all, you may win a cash prize in recognition of your academic excellence. 

Who is eligible to apply?

All Duke Kunshan University undergraduates are eligible to apply for the poster exhibition as long as the project has a substantial content related to contemporary China. You can either present one of your individual research products—based on a course paper, signature work, capstone project, or other educational experience. Alternatively, you can collaborate with others to present a group project.

How will my poster be evaluated?

A rotating panel of four Duke Kunshan University faculty members will serve as judges. They will evaluate posters on three dimensions: content, design, and oral presentation. A five-minute presentation that explains the background, research questions, methods, and findings, is needed for explaining your poster to the judges. You may wish to consult the links below for tips on poster design:


  • 18 February 2019: Watch for the call for abstracts and link for online submission.
  • 31 March 2019: Deadline for submission of abstracts
  • 10 April 2019: Successful applicants are notified to produce posters for the exhibition and competition.
  • 20 April 2019: Deadline for submission of posters
  • 22 April 2019: Poster exhibition and competition


Academic Colloquia and Conferences

The center sponsors academic colloquia and conferences that bring together leading scholars from China and elsewhere around the world to freely exchange ideas and research findings about contemporary China. The colloquia and conferences are open to the Duke Kunshan University community and the broader public beyond the university.

Academic Colloquia

The center sponsors regular academic colloquia, open to the general public, at which an invited scholar from within or outside China presents research. In keeping with the cross-disciplinary organization of Duke Kunshan University and centrality of the university’s undergraduate program, colloquium scholars make a particular effort to communicate in a broadly accessible way their research puzzle, its importance, sources and methods, and key findings.

Upcoming Colloquia

Citizens’ Responsiveness to Electoral Mobilization under Authoritarianism: Evidence from China’s Grassroots Election

Ji Yeon Jean Hong, Assistant Professor at the Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology


The center sponsors conferences at which scholars from China and beyond present research and engage in discussion organized around a theme in contemporary Chinese affairs.

Upcoming Conferences

13-14 OCTOBER 2018


A workshop and public symposium bring together leading experts to analyze the economic, financial, geostrategic, and environmental dimensions of China’s Great Silk Road Economic Belt.

Duke Kunshan University Environmental Research Center in collaboration with Duke University Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

Duke University Center for International and Global Studies in collaboration with Duke Kunshan University Center for the Study of Contemporary China.

Great Silk Road Economic Belt of Central Asia Workshop

October 13

A workshop for invited participants only.

This workshop aims to look at investments in infrastructure and industry along the Great Silk Road Economic Belt to explore what institutions and safeguards are needed to foster regional cooperation, economic livelihoods, and sustainable development. Topics include sessions on global value chains and trade, financing and standards, geopolitics and security, civil society engagement, and environmental and social impacts. The workshop is designed to serve as a platform for building research collaborations across research institutions interested in understanding the impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Central Asia.

Geostrategic, Economic, and Environmental Dimensions of the Belt and Road Initiative

October 14

A symposium open to the public.

This public symposium will draw on themes and experts from the Great Silk Road Economic Belt of Central Asia Workshop and the Developing Spatial Solutions to Environmental Impacts of Infrastructure Development Workshop to introduce these topics to policymakers, academics, practitioners, and the engaged public interested in the Belt and Road Initiative. The symposium will be organized around several panel sessions to allow for as much interaction and dialogue as possible. Two or more keynote speakers will anchor the beginning and end of the symposium.


12 JANUARY 2019


A conference open to scholars, students, and members of the local community

To celebrate the new Center for the Study of Contemporary China at Duke Kunshan University, we invite four renowned experts in Sino-U.S. relations—one each based in Beijing, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the United States—to offer their perspectives on the synergies, opportunities, and challenges in this important relationship. The conference also features contributions by Duke Kunshan University faculty and students.

  • David Michael Lampton
  • School of Advanced International Studies
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Jisi WANG
  • International Institute for Strategic Studies
  • Peking University
  • Richard Weixing HU
  • Department of Politics and Public Administration
  • University of Hong Kong
  • Xiaojuan Mandy LIAO, PhD
  • Department of Political Science
  • National Taiwan University

Andrew MacDonald is an Assistant Professor of Social Science at Duke Kunshan University. He received his BA in in History and MA in East Asian Studies from Stanford University and his Master of Philosophy and PhD in Politics from Oxford University (2015). He was a Postdoctoral Associate at the Center for Asian Democracy at the University of Louisville in 2017-2017. Dr. MacDonald’s primary interest is in finding new ways of unlocking data to better understand individual level outcomes in China. His research focuses on service provision in authoritarian regimes and the incentive structure of developing nations in providing social welfare benefits as well as how individuals are impacted by and react to state narratives and ideology. At Duke Kunshan University, his teaching interests include Political Economy, Institutions and Governance, and Political Science.  

Mengqi Wang is an Assistant Professor of Social Science at Duke Kunshan University. She received her BA in Economics and in Chinese and Media Studies from Beijing Normal University, and her MA and PhD in Anthropology from Brandeis University (2017). Dr. Wang’s research focuses on economic anthropology and how home ownership and property relations implicate and structure state power, capitalism, and everyday life in post-socialist China as well as among overseas Chinese. At Duke Kunshan University, her teaching interests include Cultures and Movements, Global China Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, and Economics.   

Yu Wang is an Assistant Professor of Social Science at Duke Kunshan University. She received her BS and MS in Sociology from Renmin University and her MS and PhD in Sociology from the University of WisconsinMadison (2017). Her research focuses on the role of intermarriage and individual achievement as pathways to social mobility in China during a period of rapid economic, social, and demographic change. A second line of her research is sexuality and reproductive behavior in the US. Her current project is about the interaction between demographic changes and assortative mating in contemporary China. Her articles have appeared in journals, such as Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, American Journal of Public Health, and Contraception.

Cai (Vera) Zuo is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Fudan University. She earned her bachelor degree in political science and public administration at Peking University and earned her doctorate in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before working at Fudan, she worked as a visiting assistant professor at the Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Her research focuses on the political institution and political economy of developing countries, with empirical work on cadre management system and policy innovation in China. Her articles have appeared in journals including China Quarterly, European Political Science, and China Review. Other publications include Trade-offs and Developments in Research Methods of Political Science (in Chinese, Fudan University Press, 2017). Her current research analyzes the endogenous nature of formal political selection institutions in China and compares cadre management reforms between China and Vietnam.