30 October 2012

University of Queensland PhD student Regan Forrest aims to increase outbound student mobility to China, with the goal of creating long-term relationships both in business and in research.

One of two students ambassadors selected from UQ, Ms Forest will visit a number of universities in China during early-mid 2013 as part of the Go8-C9 Student Leadership in International Cooperation (SLIC) Project.

“As a researcher in the School of Tourism, I appreciate the essential role of travel as an educative experience, and as a way of sharing knowledge and understanding between cultures,” Ms Forest said.

“The SLIC project presents an unparalleled opportunity to foster collaboration between prestigious universities in both Australia and China at a critical juncture in the two countries’ relationship.”

As Australia’s relationship with China has growing economic, political and social importance, Ms Forest said the mutual understanding that may be fostered by research collaborations and student mobility was significant.

“Increasing Australian students’ first-hand experience of China will be advantageous in creating long-term relationships, both in business and in research,” she said.

While there has been much focus on technological collaborations between Australia and China in the past, Ms Forest said there was also scope in the social sciences.

“Traditionally, the majority of theory and literature in the social sciences has been produced in a Western context,” she said.

“Collaborations between Australia and China may be able to expand upon this existing research, such that the mutual understanding of the two cultures is broadened and deepened.”

Ms Forest’s research interest lies in museum visitor experiences, an area that has historically been dominated by research conducted in North America.

“Comparing the American experience with different cultural contexts is an area of growing research interest,” she said.

“China has experienced a museum-building ‘boom’ in the past decade, stimulated by rapid economic growth and the flow-on effects of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“This is an opportune time to extend research connections in this area – to identify which existing research findings are relevant to the Chinese experience, and conversely how a greater understanding of Chinese museum visitor experiences can inform the broader visitor research community.”

Media: Claire Shuter (07 3349 9259 or c.shuter@uq.edu.au)