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Duke Kunshan University Student Experiential Learning Fellowship Program (SELF)

Summer 2024


The Student Experiential Learning Fellowship (SELF) program supports students participating in experiential learning projects related to their signature work. In most cases, support is granted for experiential learning activities undertaken over the summer, although academic-year work is not precluded. Aligned with DKU’s mission to “involve students in innovative scholarship and research programs,” and “prepare students for professional, intellectual and societal leadership roles across the globe,” student experiential learning is particularly well suited to the development of the following four animating principles:


  • Research and Practice: To enhance the ability to forge links between theory and practice in the many-sided and rapidly changing world of human need.
  • Lucid Communication: To develop the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, and to listen attentively to different viewpoints in coming to mature judgments.
  • Independence and Creativity: To nurture free inquiry, deep reflection and a drive to ask interesting questions and find compelling answers.
  • A Purposeful Life: To form reflective scholars who test their core beliefs, connect their course of study to big questions of meaning, and who build the capacity for lifelong learning and exploration.                                                                                                                                             

The SELF program supports both independent student experiential learning projects and those done under the supervision of someone who is not affiliated with DKU (for example, a university near your home, Duke, Westlake, or Wuhan). In addition, the SELF program also provides DKU housing for students who are doing internships at DKU or within commuting distance from campus.


Projects may be carried out in China or any other location around the world. The grants are awarded on a competitive basis, and funds may not be adequate to fund all proposals. The grants cover travel, visa/work permit, living expenses, and/or other costs associated with the proposed experiential learning activity, as well as housing on the DKU campus where appropriate. SELF does not provide stipends. Student stipends for collaborative research supervised by Duke Kunshan University faculty are supported under the Undergraduate Summer Research Scholars (SRS) program. The SELF program will not fund research participant incentives, equipment, materials or supplies, or other research expenses for Signature Work projects, which may be funded by the Signature Work Research Grant (SWRG) program.


Grant applicants must arrange, describe and justify a worthwhile Experiential Learning activity. The possibilities are broad and the criteria for evaluation of applications will include your academic accomplishments, the quality of the proposed experience, and its fit to your signature work project. 


Examples of what might be covered:

  • DKU housing for students who are working on the DKU campus or doing an internship or experiential learning activity within commuting distance of the DKU campus. (Students do not need to apply for SELF if this is the only funding needed.)
  • Travel and living expenses to participate in a summer internship or volunteer work outside of Kunshan
  • Travel and living expenses to participate in an off-campus research experience (research supervised by DKU faculty is excluded)
  • Housing in Shanghai for internships for students who prefer not to commute from the DKU campus
  • Travel and living expenses to do field work associated with your SW project.
  • Visa/work permit. (Note that it is the student’s responsibility to determine whether a visa/work permit is required for the location at which the EL is undertaken and to obtain all necessary documentation. DKU can only provide assistance for international students requiring permission to do EL activities off-campus on the Chinese Mainland.)                                                                                                                           


Students doing team-based SW projects are welcome to apply, but each student should submit a separate budget for their own expenses. Whenever possible, students should try to minimize duplication of expenses by sharing off-campus accommodation, carpooling, etc. 


In most cases, the supported work will be carried out during the summer months. The SELF program is open to any rising DKU junior or senior student.


There will be one round of applications to allow students time to make arrangements for their experiential learning activities. The deadline for full consideration is April 1, 2024.  Late applications will only be considered if funding remains.



Housing for Projects in Kunshan

On-campus rooms will be available in DKU residence halls for student SRS.  The room assignment will likely be different from the student’s assignment in both the preceding and following school year.  It is expected that on-campus rooms for this summer will be available from June 1 to July 31.  For students who only need to stay on campus for a portion of the summer, their room will only be provided during the time of need and participation in SELF.  Students who request a single room may or may not be assigned a single, depending on the supply and demand.  The Office of Undergraduate Studies will cover the cost of a double room and students assigned to a single will be required to pay the difference themselves. Students are responsible for their own meal costs.  More information about requesting an on-campus room during summer will be provided in the spring semester.


NOTE: Students requesting DKU housing should indicate this in the appropriate section of the SELF application form but NOT include the costs associated with DKU housing in the budget.



Grants up to a maximum of 11,800 RMB are available, depending on the proposed budget and the reasonably predicted costs associated with visa, travel, housing expenses (not including DKU housing), and other necessary expenditures to carry out your EL activity. You will be expected to indicate if your SELF activity is paid, which may reduce the maximum SELF grant available to you. 


A small number of supplemental awards (up to an additional 10,000 RMB, for a maximum total award of 21,800 RMB) are available through the Signature Fund (SF) (see SF program description at the end of this document). Because there is a limit to how many students will be awarded an SF, please only apply for the SF if the extra funding is needed to successfully execute your project. Students who require larger amounts are encouraged to seek alternate funding sources. They should also consult with their SW mentor on how they might revise their EL activity to reduce costs. Be aware that students may not receive more than one SF, whether attached to SELF or to SWRG, so plan accordingly.


All funds must be used before the first day of Fall Term classes, unless an extension has been approved in advance.  All expenses must be documented with a fapiao in order to be reimbursed.  All fapiao must be submitted for reimbursement according to the six-month accounting cycle described in the dates and deadlines below, and outlined in the award letter. Spending above the awarded grant amount will not be reimbursed.  


Grants will not normally be given to fund housing in Kunshan (other than DKU housing, see above) or for stipends.  Projects carried out locally within commuting distance of campus that only require DKU housing do not require a separate budget as part of the application.  In such cases, students should just indicate the need for housing on the application.


Grants may not be used to fund programs of study that involve traditional classroom instruction and/or regular summer school academic credit, even if courses are directly related to the signature work project. Grants may not be used to fund flights or visas for EL projects that are attached or adjacent to academic programs where flights or visas were required for the program; however, in such cases the grant may fund the additional housing requirements.  Ordinarily, funding does not cover work begun before the end of Spring Term nor continuing beyond the first day of Fall Term classes. Students may not receive funding while doing military training or taking the summer Chinese Society and Culture courses. Students do not normally receive academic credit for experiential learning activities conducted over the summer.


If working with Human Subjects as part of the EL, this application requires that students have completed or have submitted an initial application for approval to the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Consult with your mentor.


All expenses must be documented with a fapiao in order to be reimbursed.

Visa and Work Permit Considerations

International students whose passports and/or residence permit is expired or will expire before the end of Summer 2024:  Please renew your passport in your home country before you return to China or at the appropriate consulate and/or renew your student residence permit upon your return to Kunshan.


All International students planning to do SELF in China: If you plan to do an experiential learning activity anywhere in China, you will need an “Annotated Residence Permit” in order to do any internship or experiential learning off-campus, regardless of whether it is paid or unpaid. These have been temporarily halted due to COVID, but we’ve been in communication with Kunshan about resuming this process for you when students are able to return. The cost for the annotation ranges from 400-1000 RMB, which you may include in your SELF budget. (Please see that attached instructions, which apply even if your position is not a formal internship.)


All students planning to do SELF outside of their home country:  Please check local regulations with your experiential learning supervisor or host site to determine whether you will need a visa or work permit. The requirements will vary with both the host country and your citizenship. It is your responsibility to determine whether you can legally carry out your proposed SELF activity in the host country. You may include any visa or permit fees in your SELF budget.


Applications are submitted by students using the online form, and consist of:

  1. Name, ID, and class year of the student
  2. Transcript or screenshot of course history with grades
  3. Name of signature work mentor (or academic advisor if mentor has not yet been approved). NOTE: It is your responsibility to contact this person to request that they write a letter of recommendation. Please give them advance notice at least 1-2 weeks before the application deadline. Their letter will be due to the office of UG Studies 24 hours after the student application deadline. They should be provided with a copy of your proposal, and their letter should include an assessment of the activity, your ability to carry it out, their role in oversight of the activity (if there is not a separate experiential learning supervisor), and its fit with your SW project.
  4. Name and contact information of the organization and/or experiential learning supervisor, if applicable.
  5. A brief statement of support from off-campus experiential learning supervisor, if applicable. (This person should indicate their willingness to supervise you for the proposed activity.)
  6. Experiential Learning Activity proposal of no more than 2 pages of text, written to be understandable to non-experts in the field. The proposal should include the following:
    1. General description of the proposed activity
    2. Purpose of activity and its fit to the signature work project
    3. How the activity or project will be carried out
    4. Timeline (number of weeks, dates of the activity, location of the activity, whether the work will be concluded over the summer or continue into the next academic year or beyond)
    5. Anticipated end product (signature work product or any other product (such as publication and/or conference presentation, if applicable)
    6. Student responsibilities and educational benefit
  7. Proposed budget
    1. Projected one-time costs (such as travel to and from EL site, visa)
    2. Weekly costs and total (such as housing, but do NOT include DKU housing)
    3. Any other costs
    4. Any other grants or funding sources, including whether the activity is paid
    5. Total amount requested (up to a maximum of 12,800 RMB) 
    6. If the student would like to be considered for an SF:
      1. A supplemental budget clearly indicating what would be covered by the Signature Fund (up to an additional 10,000 RMB, for a maximum total of 22,800 RMB), should the additional funds be awarded
      2. A detailed justification for why the additional funds would significantly improve the quality of the experience or project.
  8. Indicate whether the student(s) will require DKU housing, if available
  9. For any case in which the student will be working remotely from their experiential learning supervisor or independently, please indicate plans for adequate supervision, compliance with local health and safety regulations, if applicable, and housing arrangements.
  10. A brief explanation of how you will modify your project if you do not receive sufficient funding.
  11. Disclosure of any other funding (pending, current, or previous), including funding from DKU sources such as SRS or current or previous SWRG.

The following considerations should be addressed in the application:

  1. Proposals should specify the connection of the activity to the student’s signature work project
  2. The student’s qualifications and preparation for the proposed work or activity
  3. The student should be able to demonstrate an understanding of her/his role in the proposed activity.
  4. Proposals should include a clear and convincing statement of the benefits to the student involved in the proposed work.
  5. A commitment from the external organization or EL supervisor to supporting the student in this activity, if applicable.

Proposals will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  1. educational value to the student and connection to signature work
  2. significance of the activity proposed
  3. clarity and organization of proposal
  4. feasibility of the project or activity
  5. qualifications and motivation of the student
  6. commitment of the organization or EL supervisor to support the student in the activity
  7. Budget
  8. Graduation year

Prevalence of Antibiotic Resistance Genes in Eastern Yangcheng Lake


Student Experiential Learning Fellowship Report: Students supported by the SELF program must submit a brief final research report (no more than two pages), due the day before the first day of Fall Term classes (Sunday, August 18, 2024). The student, not their EL supervisor, should write the report. The report will provide an accurate and complete account of all work done for the activity, including the approximate number of hours, figures and diagrams if appropriate, and information on publication or presentation plans if relevant. Students must also submit an abstract suitable for sharing with the DKU community, as well as prospective students or donors. Students awarded the SF will be required to write a thank you note showing their gratitude for the donors’ generous contribution to the SF fund. The Development Office may ask students to participate in other activities, including meeting with donors or making a video. The report and abstract should be submitted to DKU Undergraduate Studies no later than 11:59 pm on the day before fall term classes begin. The report and abstract must be signed by the organization or EL supervisor. It is the student’s responsibility to confirm with the organization or supervisor that the abstract may be made publicly available.


Poster Session: All Summer EL Fellows will be expected to present their EL experience at a UG Student Summer EL Fellows Poster Session in the Fall, tentatively scheduled for during Family Weekend. More details will be provided during the Fall term.

Dates and Deadlines

April 1:  Application Deadline, late application will be considered pending funding.

Mid April:  Announcement of funding recipients

April 28:  Deadline for students to accept funding

Mid to Late April: Deadline for students to apply for DKU summer housing

May 20:  Earliest date SELF work can begin

June 1: On-campus housing for SELF available

June 15: Last day to submit fapiao for reimbursement for expenses incurred between January and June 2024.  No fapiao for expenses incurred during this time period will be accepted after this date.

July 31: Last day for on-campus SELF housing

August 16:  Last date funded work can be carried out

August 18:  Final SELF Report and Abstract Due to UG Studies

Fall 2024 (date TBD):  UG Student Poster Session

December 15: Last day to submit fapiao for reimbursement for expenses incurred between July and December 2024.  No fapiao for expenses incurred during this time period will be accepted after this date.

Application Review

Applications will be reviewed by a committee appointed by the Signature Work Committee and will consist of at least one faculty member each from AH, NS, and SS, designated by the SW Committee or Director of SW, in consultation with the appropriate division chair.


Contact DKU Undergraduate Studies or the Signature Work Office


The first half of this SW presentation offers advice on what to consider in preparing a research proposal: Planning for your SW Research Project – Video (Download) – Presentation PPT (Download) – Contact Letter Examples for Critique PDF (Download). The second half offers advice on finding potential off-campus experiential learning supervisors

You are also strongly encouraged to review the folder on Project Proposals in the Grad&Fellowships Sakai site, which contains a lot of useful materials on writing project proposals. Please note that SELF supports the EL activity associated with signature work, not the full SW project, so your application should focus on the EL.

Special Instructions for SELF at Wuhan, Westlake, and Duke Universities

SELF at Wuhan and Westlake Universities:

  • DKU has made arrangements with both Wuhan and Westlake Universities for offering opportunities for DKU students to do research with their faculty this summer. Both universities are supportive, but students will need to make their own arrangements directly with faculty. Please note that some Wuhan/Westlake faculty might not be able to accommodate DKU UG student researchers, and it is at the discretion of the individual faculty. As a reminder, neither Wuhan nor Westlake nor the SELF program provides stipends, but the SELF program will provide funding toward travel and housing, and both universities will help students arrange accommodation. Students may need appropriate visas in order to participate.


Special instructions for students interested in research at Wuhan

  1. Review Wuhan faculty research on Wuhan’s website.
  2. Reach out directly to Wuhan faculty with whom you are interested in working to inquire whether they would be willing to accommodate you and to make arrangements. It might help to let them know that you are applying to DKU for a fellowship to cover the cost of travel to Wuhan and housing, and that you do not expect to get paid.
  3. DKU SELF will provide funding toward travel to Wuhan and housing.
  4. Wuhan will provide accommodation in University housing. When preparing your budget, please use an estimated cost for the housing of 1200 RMB/month. (Note:  Availability and cost of housing at Wuhan is tentative and subject to change.)
  5. For students who are funded through SELF, the Office of UG Studies at DKU will communicate with Wuhan to make arrangements for housing. Participating students do not need to contact Wuhan about housing.


Special instructions for students interested in research at Westlake

  1. Review Westlake faculty research on Westlake’s website.
  2. Reach out directly to Westlake faculty with whom you are interested in working to inquire whether they would be willing to accommodate you and to make arrangements. It might help to let them know that you are applying to DKU for a fellowship to cover the cost of travel to Hangzhou and housing, and that you do not expect to get paid
  3. DKU SELF will provide funding toward travel to Hangzhou and housing.
  4. Westlake does not have campus housing available, but they will help students find rooms for a reasonable cost.
  5. For students who are funded through SELF, the Office of UG Studies at DKU will communicate with Westlake about housing arrangements. Participating students do not need to contact Westlake directly.


Special instructions for students interested in SELF research with Duke Faculty: 

  1. Review Duke faculty research on Duke’s website.
  2. Reach out directly to Duke faculty with whom you are interested in working to inquire whether they would be willing to accommodate you and to make the arrangements. Please include the following:
    1. Introduce yourself as a DKU student and let them know that you are applying to DKU for a fellowship to subsidize the cost of travel to Durham and housing.
    2. Include a copy of the SELF program description. Make it clear that you do not expect to get paid and/or that you can work remotely if they can accommodate that.
    3. At a minimum, you should include a description of your academic research interests, goals, and any relevant experience you have had.
    4. Include your resume if available.
  3. As a reminder, neither Duke nor the SELF program provides stipends, but the SELF program will provide funding toward travel and housing. However, please note that Duke may not have campus housing available in summer 2022 for students who are not enrolled in Duke’s summer session. If you will need housing, you should anticipate that you will likely need to make your own arrangements.
  4. Please note that some Duke faculty might not be able to accommodate DKU UG student researchers, and it is at the discretion of the individual faculty.
  5. For students who require a visa to work in the US: The J1 visa requires you to be a full-time student.  Duke will not be able to sponsor students to come for the summer just to do research.  That means one of the following must apply:
    1. You will be fully enrolled in courses in Duke’s summer session and need to pay Duke summer tuition, which is not covered by SELF.  Please note that you may not do SELF while taking a full course load of regular courses, but you may register for a Duke research independent study course for your SELF activity. 
    2. You will be within the validity period of your J1 visa (30 days before or after the Duke semester in which you are enrolled).
    3. You will be working remotely and will not be in the US.
  6. You may reach out to Valerie Hausman if you need a point of contact at Duke.