“Contemporary Chinese History & Society is the core course for a 6-week summer study program based at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China’s top-ranking institution of higher learning. The course is designed to help students develop an understanding of China’s historic, economic, and social transformation, its emerging role as a world superpower, and the global implications ofthis transformation. It also seeks to promote understanding and appreciation of contemporary Chinese culture so that students can become bridge-builders between North-American and Chinese people.
Tsinghua professors will begin with an overview of the cultural-historic foundations against which contemporary China is understood, including the early development of Chinese civilization, hallmarks of traditional China, early East-West exchanges, and the historic significance of China. The focus will then move to key concepts and historical developments in China from mid 1800’s to the present, with emphasis on understanding the worldview of the Chinese people, including China’s interaction with the West, with a focus on the last 100 years. This interdisciplinary course provides insight into China’s contemporary social and cultural issues with an overview of its political system, economic system, social structures, as well as the non-profit and religious sectors. Examining a broad range of topics from an interdisciplinary perspective, students are asked to think creatively and critically about the profound socioeconomic transformation that China is currently undergoing and how these changes are impacting the Chinese people as well as China’s larger role in the global context.
The course also features a two-week service learning project in rural western Chinese where the students will teach in a local middle school, partner with a local community development center, and learn the basic principles of ethnographic social research as they conduct research in the local community. The course offers a total of 24 lectures, integrated with 12 cultural and historicsite visits, a two-week service-learning project in western China, and other experiential learning activities.