Keynote Speakers


Professor Martha Augoustinos

Adjunct Professor of Psychology, University of Adelaide and University of South Australia, Australia

The discursive turn in psychology: What have we learned?

This keynote address reflects on the last 30 years of discursive research in psychology and the new ways of understanding language it has introduced to social psychology. Specifically, I focus on the impact it has had in understanding core concepts in the field, leading to a ‘quiet revolution’ that has challenged the primacy of cognitive-perceptual models of human sense-making in psychology. I argue that discursive psychology’s epistemological approach to language – as a tool-kit of social practices deployed flexibly and rhetorically for interaction – is central to understanding the ‘unceasing babble’ we are growing accustomed to in the age of social media and instantaneous communication. Increasing interest in everyday talk-in-interaction is vital if we are to understand recent social phenomena such as the rise of right-wing extremism, conspiracy theories, and the mistrust of science. 

Martha Augoustinos is Adjunct Professor of Psychology at the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia. Martha has published widely in the field of social psychology and discourse, in particular on the nature of racial discourse in Australia. This has involved mapping the trajectory of the 'race debate' in Australian public discourse since 1995 and has included an analysis of how issues related to race, immigration, refugees, and identity are constructed in everyday conversation and political rhetoric.



Professor Michael Bond

Department of Management and Marketing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

The “magnum mysterium” of culture: My getting to grips with an elusive, polysemous construct for empirical social scientists

For me, culture has always been the “magnum mysterium”, endlessly rich and enchanting in its polysemous manifestations, “an arch wherethro, Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades, For ever and for ever when I move” (Tennyson, Ulysses). In my version of the culture quest as a social-personality psychologist, I have moved through four developmental stages, each associated with a questing mentor-hero: 1. Aristotle – the discovery stage; 2. Mercator – the psychography stage; 3. Wilhelm Wundt - the unpackaging stage; 4. Urie Bronfenbrenner – the bio-ecological systems stage. Progression through these stages has brought me and the field of cross-cultural psychology closer to the goal of understanding how an individual’s enculturation experience has interacted with his or her genetic endowment to produce the social behavior characterizing that individual. I will describe these four stages in my pilgrim’s progress, using Berry’s (2018) model of eco-cultural development and its possible interface with communication behavior.  I hope that this story of my intellectual journey in culture to date will inspire listeners of this narrative to revision their approach to understanding outcomes of interest in language and social psychology as contexted by the cultures of their respondents.

I left my Anglo-heritage birthplace of Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1966 and began a so-far, 53-year odyssey in communicating cross-culturally. I seem to have adapted well enough to “alien corn”, and spent 5 years in America, where I received my PhD in social psychology from Stanford University, 3 years in Japan, where I worked as a research associate at Kwansei Gakuin University, and the last 45 years teaching psychology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. At CUHK, I tried to figure out and organize the psychology of the Chinese people by doing my own research and editing handbooks; at PolyU, I have tried to apply my understanding of culture’s huge impact upon all of us by teaching graduate courses in cross-cultural management and developing models for multi-cultural psychology. I continue to learn, albeit “through a glass darkly”.



Professor Mohan Dutta

School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey University, New Zealand

Cultural centering as decolonizing hegemonic structures

Amidst the large-scale global inequalities, ecological disasters, and pandemic, what are the conceptual registers for theorizing communication for social change? The interplays of colonialism, extreme capitalism, and whiteness have generated and reproduced profound risks to human health, wellbeing, and broader ecosystems. Drawing on the key tenets of the culture-centered approach (CCA), this keynote address foregrounds the organizing role of radical democracies in the grassroots as the basis of structural transformation. The enactments of community sovereignty through articulations of knowledge claims rooted in the moral constructs of sharing, collectivization, and resource redistribution serve as the foundations for dismantling the ideology of capitalist extraction.

Mohan J Dutta is Dean's Chair Professor of Communication. He is the Director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), developing culturally-centered, community-based projects of social change, advocacy, and activism that articulate health as a human right. He is a Fellow of the International Communication Association and Distinguished Scholar of the National Communication Association. Mohan Dutta's research examines the role of advocacy and activism in challenging marginalizing structures, the relationship between poverty and health, political economy of global health policies, the mobilization of cultural tropes for the justification of neo-colonial health development projects, and the ways in which participatory culture-centered processes and strategies of radical democracy serve as axes of global social change.



Professor Ping Li (李平)

Faculty of Humanities, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Social Learning of Second Language: A Neurocognitive Framework  

Both folk wisdom and scientific knowledge have pointed to the apparent differences between children and adults in language acquisition, especially with regard to how native language (L1) acquisition versus second language (L2) learning differ. There have also been recent neuroimaging data that indicate differences in the neural representation of L1 and L2. In this talk, I highlight differences in the context of learning between children and adults, and suggest “social learning of L2” (SL2) as a new framework for thinking about L1-L2 differences and the corresponding neural correlates. I provide an overview the SL2 approach and the related theoretical models and hypotheses. If the social and affective cues relevant to the context of learning can be made available to L2-learning adults as they are to L1-learning children, the success of L2 learning may be enhanced and the child L1 vs. adult L2 discrepancy be reduced. The neural evidence from our work also shows that SL2-based learning, as compared with traditional classroom-based learning, can lead to brain network patterns in L2 that are more similar to those underlying L1. Finally, we can leverage rapidly developing digital technologies to simulate the conditions of social learning, which has significant promises to advance both our theories of language learning and pedagogical applications in language teaching.

Ping Li (李平) currently serves as the Chair Professor of Neurolinguistics and Bilingual Studies, Dean of Faculty of Humanities and the Associate Director of the University Research Facility in Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience (UBSN) at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Prior to joining PolyU Li was Professor of Psychology, Linguistics, and Information Sciences, and Associate Director of the Institute for CyberScience at the Pennsylvania State University. He previously taught at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Richmond. The goal of his research is to understand the neuro-computational bases of language and cognition, and the relationships among language, culture, brain, and technology. His recent work uses brain-based, cyber-enabled and data-intensive methods to study language acquisition, bilingualism, and reading comprehension. He is Editor-in-Chief of Brain and Language, Senior Editor of Cognitive Science and Associate Editor of Frontiers in Psychology: Language Sciences. He previously held positions of Editorship at Bilingualism: Language and Cognition and Journal of Neurolinguistics, President of Society for Computers in Psychology, and Program Director of Cognitive Neuroscience and of Perception, Action and Cognition at the U.S. National Science Foundation. For further details, please visit



Professor Sik Hung Ng (伍錫洪)

Former Chair Professor of Psychology, City University of Hong Kong, and Renmin University of China

Nonviolent Collective Action and Genuine Dialogue

Nonviolent collective action (NCA) is a form of group-based politicised action that citizens use to highlight grievance or demand organisational, community or global betterment. Examples are peaceful sit-in, work-to-rule, strike, protest march, and rally. It rolls out with emotions, displays itself in slogans and songs, spreads out in social media, and involves a struggle for narrative and political control over “them”, the target group. Historically NCA has become less effective. Sadly it often degenerates into violent clashes. Yet it is still widely applied — perhaps for as long as the world we live in remains unjust and imperfect. This talk will discuss how genuine dialogue may halt violent clashes (physical or verbal) and connect the relevant parties to pursue the common good.

  • In a genuine dialogue, the “I-It” relationship is transformed into an “I-Thou” relationship. “I” no longer remains egoistic and the opposite party is no longer viewed as a sub- or non-human social category, an “It” to be manipulated or exploited. Instead “I” is togetherness, and both parties mutually accept each other as fully human, a “Thou” worthy of respect and a trustworthy partner in the pursuit of common good — what Martin Buber, a philosopher and activist, has called the “sphere of between”.
  • From the perspectives of social psychology and language, such a transformation would entail giving up group-based negative sentiments and emotions such as self-righteousness and hatred, coupled with corresponding changes in intergroup categorisation, social comparison and collective identity. Listening and language power through speech and silence play a significant communication role in the life of genuine dialogue.

Dr Ng has published extensively on the social psychology of power, language, intergroup relations, ageing and bicultural brain. He was a former President of IALSP and AASP (Asian Association of Social Psychology), and Professor/Chair Professor of Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington, City University of Hong Kong, and Renmin University of China. His public services include cofounding the New Zealand Institute for Research on Ageing, as well as serving on the Provisional Minimum Wage Commission and the Central Policy Unit of the Hong Kong SAR Government. In 2013, he received AASP’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.