2011 Fall East Asian Civilizations Program in Beijing

The UofC group arrived at the migrant children's school in time for recess.

October 4, 2011

The 2011 East Asian Civilizations Study Abroad Program features classes taught by University of Chicago professors James Hevia, Dingxin Zhao and Jacob Eyferth, as well as Chinese language instructors from Renmin University ZHANG Zhi and YU Hechuan.

Professor Hevia's course gave students a sense of the history of Beijing in the late Qing Dynasty and early 20th century. During orientation weekend, students accompanied Professor Hevia to the Forbidden Palace. On Friday, September 30, he led an excursion to the Daoist temple at Miaofengshan, following in the footsteps of preceding generations of pilgrims that the group had read about in class. The class also visited the Beijing Urban Planning Exhibition Center, where they investigated how the city has changed in the past few decades.

On October 14th and 15th, Professor Hevia accompanied the students on a trip to visit Suzhou and Shanghai. The group, which had read about public parks and gardens in Beijing, toured the UNESCO World Heritage-listed historic gardens and canals of Suzhou. In Shanghai, where the Bund's early 1900s buildings sit across the Huangpu River from post-modern Pudong, the group visited Shanghai's own Urban Planning Museum and the Chinese art collections of the Shanghai Museum.

Professor Dingxin Zhao led the second course of the quarter, focusing on revolutions and rebellions in the past several centuries of Chinese history. On October 26th, Professor Zhao took the students to Tianjin, a 45-minute trip on a high-speed bullet train.  They explored the historic foreign concessions area in Tianjin, where the architecture is in an early-20th-Century European style. The history of Tianjin is intimately related to the rise of Western and Japanese imperialism, which triggered the rise of Chinese nationalism and the ensuring wars and revolutions in China during the 20th century. Elana Kranz, Program Coordinator for the College's Study Abroad office, accompanied the group.

The final class in the Civ quarter was taught by Professor Jacob Eyferth. This course investigated the complex dynamics between urban and rural areas in 20th-century and contemporary China. On November 23rd, Professor Eyferth took students to Picun, a village near Beijing that was founded by migrant workers and their children.  The UofC group visited an elementary school, a small factory, and a museum which tells the migrants' story in their own words.