Skip to main content

Professor Prue Holmes

Professor, Director of Research

Professor, Director of Research in the School of Education+44 (0) 191 33 48354


Prue Holmes is Professor and Director of Research in the School of Education, and Chair of the AHRC Liaison Group at Durham University. She is Docent (Intercultural Competence in Global Education) at the University of Helsinki, Finland.

Prue has led two AHRC-funded projects (“Researching Multilingually”, and “Building an Intercultural Pedagogy in Higher Education in Conditions of Conflict and Protracted Crises: Languages, Identity, Culture”, BIPHEC). She has also been co-investigator on several other multinational research projects (funded by UKRI, and the European Commission). She has also received research commissions from UNESCO (Paris), Education New Zealand, and the Ministry of Education (International), New Zealand.

Prue’s research and publications focus on several interrelated areas: researchers’ multilingual resources in the research process in multidisciplinary, multilingual, and multinational contexts; interculturality; intercultural competence; intercultural dialogue and critical intercultural pedagogies in higher education and in contexts of (forced) migration and conflict; internationalisation, including international and Chinese students’ learning and study-abroad experiences; and the doctoral experience.

Prue is a member of the AHRC Peer Review College, and five editorial boards. She participates in international advisory roles.  She also leads the book series “Researching Multilingually” published by Multilingual Matters. Together with Professor Michael Byram, she co-convenes the annual Cultnet meeting (researchers in language and intercultural communication) annually at Durham University. She was Chairperson of the International Association for Languages and Intercultural Communication (IALIC), from 2010 to 2021.

Prior to coming to Durham in 2010, Prue taught in several universities internationally (New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, and Italy). She was Guest Professor in the Department of English, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, China from 2018 to 2021. She receives invitations internationally to give keynotes, invited talks, and workshops in her research areas.

Research interests

Researching multilingually

Intercultural and international education

Intercultural competence/dialogue/encounters

The intercultural dimensions of languages, language learning and teaching

Internationalisation, mobility, and the student experience; global citizenship

Critical intercultural pedagogy for intercultural learning

New materialism and the creative arts in intercultural learning


Information for prospective doctoral research student supervisions

Prue supervises doctoral research in the areas of language and intercultural communication, and intercultural education; intercultural citizenship; and internationalisation. Recently, her research has investigated critical intercultural pedagogy, language and intercultural competence in Chinese Higher Education, intercultural dialogue, and the creative arts in contexts of forced migration and conflict. She welcomes applications from prospective doctoral students on any of the above topics.

Completed Supervisions

A qualitative exploration of how host Chinese staff make sense of their intercultural experiences in a Sino-foreign cooperative university

A case study of EFL education in a Chinese independent college: How does the College English curriculum meet learners’ expressed needs?

Applying an Intercultural Approach to Chinese College Language Teaching.

Fluid Cultures and Identifications: The Intercultural Communication Experiences of Saudi International Students in the UK

An ethnographic study of how Chinese students in a UK university understand and respond to emotions in their intercultural adjustment.

National identity (re)construction and negotiation and cosmopolitanism in the intercultural study-abroad context: Student sojourners from Taiwan in the UK

The perspectives of female Emirati pre-service teachers on the use of English as a medium of instruction: An ethnographic investigation.

Mandarin Chinese community schooling in England: Language, culture and pupils’ identities.

 Understanding Japanese students' intercultural learning before, during, and after studying abroad: Using reflective writing as a pedagogic tool.

Developing Intercultural Competence in English Language Teachers: Towards Building Intercultural Language Education in Colombia

Multilingual and intercultural communication in and beyond the UK asylum process: a linguistic ethnographic case study of legal advice-giving across cultural and linguistic borders

An exploration of students' experiences and interpretations of an internationalisation policy implemented in a Chinese university: A case study.

“It makes me feel like part of the world”: How children in the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme understand international-mindedness.

A comparative study of English education in Japan: Fostering learners’ intercultural communicative competence, criticality and identity for intercultural citizenship.

The experiences of refugee creative writers: An intersectional feminist study. 

How to integrate intercultural communication in Chinese language teaching: An interpretive study of the perspectives and experiences of teachers in Confucius Institutes in the United Kingdom.

Investigating the use of literary texts in a pedagogy to teach intercultural communicative competence in an EFL Master’s course in Algeria.

Exploring student nurses' intercultural care experiences in clinical practice.

Experiencing multilingual identities and interculturality through learning and socialising in languages: The ecologies of two “language cafés”. 

The Council of Europe’s Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture: Hope for democracy or an allusive Utopia?


Research awards and funded projects

ESRC IAA (Economic & Social Science Research Council) Impact Acceleration Account). Project title: Facilitating intercultural dialogue among refugee/asylum-seeking youths and students in higher education.PI: Professor Prue Holmes Project duration: 1 June 2024 to 31 May 2025. Amount £13,939.91

AHRC GCRF (Arts and Humanities Research Council Global Challenges Research Fund). Project Title: Building an intercultural pedagogy for higher education in conditions of conflict and protracted crises: Languages, identity, culture (BIPHEC) (AH/S003967/1).PI: Professor Prue Holmes. Project duration: 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019. Amount: £54,397.91 

ERASMUS+ Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices: Capacity building in Higher Education (KA2). Project Title: RICH-Ed (Resources for Interculturality in Chinese Higher Education). (585733-EPP-1-2017-1-BE-EPPKA2-CBHE-JP). PI-UK. Dr Prue Holmes. Project leader, Professor Jan Van Maele, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven), Leuven, Belgium. Project duration: 1 September 2017 – 30 April 2021.Durham University allocation €71,280,00. Total grant €596,300 

Jean Monnet Network Project. Project Title: EUROMEC (European Identity, Culture, Exchanges, & Multilingualism). (553397-EPP-1-2014-1-BG-EPPJMO-NETWORK). PI-UK, Dr Prue Holmes. Project leader, Professor Maria Stoicheva, University of Sofia, Bulgaria. Project duration: 1 September 2014 – 30 August 2017. Durham University allocation £30,000. Total grant €366,274

AHRC (Arts & Humanities Research Council, UK) Large Research Grant. Project title: Researching multilingually at the borders of language, the body, law, and the state (AH/L006936/1).Co-Investigator (Researching Multilingually). Project leader, Professor Alison Phipps, University of Glasgow.Project duration: 1 April 2014 – 30 September 2017. Durham University allocation £365,000 (post-doctoral researcher, two funded PhDs); Total grant£1,998,797

LLP ERASMUS Multilateral project title: Intercultural Educational Resources for ERASMUS Students and their Teachers (IEREST). Project Title: Mobility strategies and removal of barriers to mobility in higher education [527373-LLP-1-2012-1-IT-ERASMUS-ESMO]. Co-Investigator (supported by a research assistant at Durham).Project duration: November 2012-October 2015. Durham University allocation €73,745; Total grant €550,475 

AHRC (Arts & Humanities Research Council, UK) Research Network Grant.Project title: Researching multilingually (AH/J005037/1)PI, Dr Prue Holmes.Project duration: 1 December 2011 – 30 November 2012. Amount £28,349

HEA/UKCISA (Higher Education Academy/United Kingdom Council for International Student Affairs) Project title: Preparing students for internationalisation at home: Evaluating a two-week induction programme in a one-year masters programme. PI, Dr Prue Holmes.Project duration: 13 February to 1 September, 2012. Amount £10,000

UNESCO Research Grant.Project Title: Intercultural competence: Asia-Pacific region (Concepts, methods, and tools for intercultural competence and mediation). PI: Dr Prue Holmes. Funded 7,000 word literature review for the Division of Cultural Policies and Intercultural Dialogue, UNESCO.Project duration: August to December, 2008. Amount $US 5,000

Asia: New Zealand Research Grant.Project title: Contributing to New Zealand’s cohesive communities: Developing two-way networks between Asian migrants and New Zealand employers.PI: Dr Prue Holmes.Awarded September, 2006. Amount $NZ 18,000

Education New Zealand/Ministry of Education.Project title: The experiences of Chinese international students in New Zealand,Co-I: Dr Prue Holmes. Awarded March 2006. Amount $NZ 40,000

Ministry of Education/Education New Zealand.Project title: Interactions with international students.Co-I: Dr Prue Holmes; PI, Professor Colleen Ward.Awarded July, 2004.Amount $NZ 140,000

Ministry of Education (International).Project title: A review and evaluation of the international literature on managing cultural diversity in the classroom.Co-I: Dr Prue Holmes.Awarded April, 2004. Amount $NZ 65,000


Keynote presentations

“Researching in multilingual environments of onward migration: Negotiating positions of linguistic power”. British Association for Applied Linguistics/Cambridge University Press, Goldsmiths, University of London. (2024, 14 February).

“Understanding our intercultural (dialogic and embodied) selves—as practitioners, as learners”, at the Professional Issues Meeting (Hybrid Event) (PIM BALNEAP), English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and Intercultural Communication (IC), University of Leeds, UK. (2022, 17 June).

“A Non-essentialist Framework for Intercultural Communication in Higher Education”, at the First Language, Translation & Intercultural Communication Forum, Prince sultan University, Saudi Arabia. (2022, 29 March).

“Developing global citizens through critical intercultural pedagogies”. Intercultural competence and foreign language learning in HE: Present and future directions, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK. (2021, 1-2 July).

“Developing glocal talents through critical intercultural pedagogies”. International symposium on international higher education: Glocal talents for the new era. University of Nottingham Ningbo China, Ningbo, China. (2021, 4-5 June).

“An intercultural pedagogy for English language teaching and learning in Chinese Universities”. 22nd Warwick International Conference in Applied Linguistics (WICAL), University of Warwick, Warwick, UK. (2019, 24-25 June).

“Mobility and the ‘Belt and Road’: Interculturality in Chinese higher education”. Chinese Transformations in space: Migration and mobility in Chinese education, Educational Research Association (CERA). Institute of Education, University College London, London. (2019, 13-14 June).

“Interculturality in English as a Lingua Franca: Implications for Pedagogy”. The 5th ELT Conference: Bridging Theory and Practice. Faculty of Persian and Foreign Languages, Allameh Tabataba’i University, Tehran, Iran. (2019, 1-2 May).

“Creating glocal talents through intercultural education: A pedagogy for ‘interculturality at home’”. International symposium on cultivating “glocal talents” through international/transnational higher education. University of Nottingham Ningbo, China. (2018, 6-7 December).

“Intercultural pedagogies for language learning in ‘unstable’ and ‘stable’ contexts: Some affordances, challenges, and complementarities”. Language teaching and learning in unstable times, and in changing political landscapes. British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL) Language Learning and Teaching Special Interest Group, Southampton University, Southampton, UK. (2018, 12-14 July).

“Enhancing interculturality through languages education. World languages symposium. Educational Collaborative for International Schools”, Vienna, Austria. (2017, 14-15 November).  

“Languages under pressure and pain: Implications for languages and intercultural education”. The 12th Annual International Conference, Chinese Association for Intercultural Communication (CAFIC). School of English, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Nottingham Ningbo, Ningbo, China. (2017, 22-23 June)  

“Language, culture, pedagogy, and translation under pressure in the 21st century: Some reflections and ways forward”. Global communication and beyond: Language, culture, pedagogy and translation. International Conference on Applied Linguistics, Department of English, National Taipei University of Technology, GIS TAIPEI TECH Convention Center, Taipei, Taiwan. (2015, 19-20 November).

“How do I know I’m interculturally competent? A study of students’ intercultural learning”. Issues in intercultural learning and teaching in L2 contexts. The 12th ELIA Conference, The University of Seville, Seville, Spain. (2015, 1-3 July).

“Mobility and interculturality: What’s in it for students?” The actual importance of international mobility in HEIs. Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo, Viana do Castelo, Portugal. (2015, 1-5 June).

“Intercultural communicative competence in the 21st century: Is it still fit for purpose?” Intercultural communicative competence: Impact, influence, and theoretical developments. British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL) Special Interest Group. University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom. (2015, 14-15 May).

“Theoretical and methodological possibilities and challenges for researching Chinese people/communities: An auto-biographical non-Chinese researcher perspective”. Intercultural communication between China and the rest of the world: Beyond (reverse) essentialism and culturalism? University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland. (2014, 5-6 June).

“Researching multilingually: New theoretical and methodological directions”. Methodological issues in intercultural, international and comparative research: Opportunities, challenges, approaches and future trends. British Education Research Association (BERA) Special Interest Groups: Comparative and International Education; Research Methodology in Education, Durham University, United Kingdom. (2013, 22 April).

“Building intercultural understanding and competence in (foreign language) education”. Italian Association of Foreign Language Teachers (LEND), University of Verona, Verona, Italy. (2013, 20 March).

“Beyond intercultural competence: Intercultural dialogue and responsibility”. Across languages and cultures. 4th International Adriatic-Ionian Conference. Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Venice, Italy. (2011, 1-3 September).

Esteem indicators

Co-founding member, International Centre for the Comparative Study of Doctoral Education (ICCSDE). (launched January 2023).

Adjunct Professor, Department of Teacher Education, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland (since 2013, ongoing).

Guest Professor, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, China (2018-2021)

Guest Professor, Zhejiang Wanli University, Ningbo, China (2015-2018)

Chair, International Association of Language and Intercultural Communication (IALIC), UK, December, 2010 to December 2021.

Series Lead Editor (with co-editor Dr Richard Fay), Researching Multilingually, published by Multilingual Matters, United Kingdom, since January, 2015.

Co-convenor, Cultnet Annual Meeting, Durham University, since 2011.

Member, AHRC Peer Review College, since 2022.

Associate Editor, International Journal of Bias, Identity and Diversities in Education, since October, 2011.

Editorial Board Member of the Following Journals:Communication Education, published by Routledge, since November, 2010.Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, published by Routledge, 2009-2020. International Journal of Bias, Identity and Diversities in Education (formerly International Journal of Education for Diversities), since October, 2011.Language and Intercultural Communication, published by Routledge, since December, 2006.Contemporary Language Teaching. University of Isfahan, Iran. Since August 2018. Multilingualism, De Gruyter, since June 2016. 

Advisory Board Member, The SAGE Handbook of Intercultural Communication, publication date June 2024

Advisory Board Member, EFIL’s Training and Intercultural Learning Advisory Body (TICLAB), Brussels, Belgium, since October 2017.

Advisory Board Member, Education beyond borders: Studies in educational and academic mobility and migration. Series Editor, Professor Fred Dervin. Peter Lang, since January 2013.

Expert, United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO (2016).

Advisory Board Member for International Research, Ministry of Education (International), New Zealand, 2005-2010.

Research Associate of the Following International Research Associations: International Academy for Intercultural Research, US, since September, 2012.Center for Intercultural New Media Research, US, since September, 2011.Center for Intercultural Dialogue, US, since January, 2010.Centre for Applied Cross-cultural Research, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, since July, 2005.

Research interests

  • Intercultural and International Education
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Language Learning and Teaching
  • Researching multilingually
  • Qualitative Research Methods/ Ethnography


Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

Supervision students