A Taxonomy for Cultural Adaptation: The Stories of Two Academics When Teaching Indigenous Student Sojourners





cultural adaptation, academics, Indigenous students, cultural fluency, structured vignette analysis, short term student sojourners


Difficult cultural encounters can impact both student sojourners and academics. In this article we present vignettes of separate experiences of an unforeseen cultural encounter in each of two groups of short-term adult student sojourners and we who taught them: One Indigenous group from Timor Leste entering Australia for a 12-week period, and one Indigenous group from Australia traveling to Greenland for a two-week period. We use a structured vignette analysis (PITARD, 2016) of each critical incident to present specific details of how these intense, unanticipated cultural experiences impacted us, the academics. Within our vignettes we see at work a process for cultural adaptation, which we have developed into a taxonomy to assist other teachers in their experiences with difficult cultural encounters to better understand what is happening as a means for stepping outside their own cultural boundaries.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Jayne Pitard, Victoria University

Jayne PITARD currently supervises PhD students in the College of Arts and Education at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia. Her own PhD research focused on her recent work with Indigenous students from Timor Leste. In her 30 years with Victoria University she delivered professional development to teaching staff, with a focus on experiential learning, and was an integral teaching partner in the Career Change Program, a Victorian Government initiative to train industry experts to teach in secondary schools. She has published articles on phenomenology and autoethnography, and contributed to the Springer (Singapore) "Handbook of Research Methods in Health Social Sciences," edited by Pranee LIAMPUTTONG (2017).

Meghan Kelly, Deakin University

Associate professor Meghan KELLY is a senior lecturer in visual communication design at Deakin University and currently serves as the associate head of School for Teaching and Learning in the School of Communication and Creative Arts. In her research, she explores issues surrounding identity creation and representation in a cross-cultural context with a focus on Indigenous communities. Her passion for a global understanding of design extends into her teaching practice and continues to be explored in research projects and design opportunities. Together with Russell KENNEDY, she has written the Australian Indigenous Design Charter: Communication Design, and has traveled to Denmark, Greenland and Sweden to explore its transformation into the International Indigenous Design Charter. KELLY is a member of the Design Institute of Australia (DIA) and the International Council of Design (ico-D).




How to Cite

Pitard, J., & Kelly, M. (2020). A Taxonomy for Cultural Adaptation: The Stories of Two Academics When Teaching Indigenous Student Sojourners. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 21(2). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-21.2.3327