Purdue University Graduate School
2021.11.23 Leighton Buntain Thesis Complete FINAL.pdf (2.97 MB)


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posted on 2022-12-03, 00:10 authored by Leighton A BuntainLeighton A Buntain
International education is big business and international students are a large minority on many of the U.S.’s most reputable institutions. However, a persistent issue has been the tendency for international and U.S. domestic students to socialize largely within their own groups of co-nationals. Utilizing a paradigmatic case study approach on a large public university, this dissertation consists of three separate, but connected, studies that feature, respectively, (1) staff and faculty intercultural learning and contact, (2) undergraduate student experiences of intercultural contact and friendship, and (3) undergraduate student assessments of campus spaces and programs for interacting across culture. These studies integrated frameworks from intercultural competence, intergroup contact theory, and conviviality. Findings throughout the case study confirmed that friendship and contact between international and domestic U.S. individuals was limited, even when the participants were motivated, experienced, and demonstrated many aspects of intercultural competence. Further, the case was characterized by administrative efforts to address the issue through formal classes, workshops, and festivals, while generally overlooking the informal spaces that students found most integral to their own experiences. These findings underscore a disconnect between trying to “prepare” individuals for contact rather than attempting to “create” the spaces and programs for such contact to occur, i.e., a focus on the individual’s knowledge and skills rather than the interpersonal and environmental conditions in contact. The findings culminated in the proposed Programmatic Conviviality Model, qualities which are theorized to support convivial intercultural contact. I argue that this model and the realignment to a focus on intercultural contact as a goal, is necessary for college campuses beyond the immediate case study and that this work is timely as campuses move back to in-person engagement after almost two years of COVID isolation.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Curriculum and Instruction

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

JoAnn Phillion

Additional Committee Member 2

Michael Brzezinski

Additional Committee Member 3

Xinran Lehto

Additional Committee Member 4

Kathryn Obenchain