2015 Social Sciences Program Students Explore China’s Past, Present, and Politics

July 10, 2015

The fifth annual Spring Social Sciences in Beijing Study Abroad program brought 8 UChicago undergraduates to the Center to study 20th-century and contemporary China. After an orientation weekend that included a trip to the Forbidden City and Jingshan Park, the students began their quarter with a three-week intensive course taught by Center in Beijing Faculty Director Dali Yang (Department of Political Science), entitled “Politics and Public Policy in China.” The Social Sciences program is characterized by unique weekly excursions, which kicked off this year when Professor Yang brought the students on an early-morning visit to Mao’s Mausoleum in Tiananmen Square, and then moved on to the National Museum of China and the Beijing City Planning Exhibition Hall. On a subsequent excursion day, Professor Yang took the students to speak with officials from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the China Centers for Disease Control.

The fifth annual Spring Social Sciences in Beijing Study Abroad program brought 8 UChicago undergraduates to the Center to study 20th-century and contemporary China. After an orientation weekend that included a trip to the Forbidden City and Jingshan Park, the students began their quarter with a three-week intensive course taught by Center in Beijing Faculty Director Dali Yang (Department of Political Science), entitled “Politics and Public Policy in China.” The Social Sciences program is characterized by unique weekly excursions, which kicked off this year when Professor Yang brought the students on an early-morning visit to Mao’s Mausoleum in Tiananmen Square, and then moved on to the National Museum of China and the Beijing City Planning Exhibition Hall. On a subsequent excursion day, Professor Yang took the students to speak with officials from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the China Centers for Disease Control.

Renmin University undergraduate language partners accompanied the Social Sciences group on an unseasonably snowy visit to the Great Wall at Jinshanling in Hebei Province. The UChicago students also took a weekend overnight trip with their teaching assistant and Center staff to Pingyao, Shanxi Province, to explore the preserved old city. Throughout the quarter, the students attended Chinese language classes taught by Renmin University of China instructors.

For the later six weeks of classes, the Social Sciences students attended a course taught by Professor Emeritus William Parish (Department of Sociology) on Chinese society and a course taught by UChicago alumnus Professor Tao Ran (Renmin University of China Department of Sociology) on the transition and growth of China’s economy. Further group excursions included visits to the Rural Women’s Training School, the village homes of two of the Center in Beijing’s housekeeping staff, and the land use transition projects at the enormous Shougang (Capital Steel) factory campus. The group also visited a long-standing mosque in the Ox Street Muslim district, a large Christian church, the P1.cn social platform, Xinfadi wholesale produce district, and the Bethel home for visually impaired children. Wu Qing, a Beijing professor, politician, and activist who founded the Rural Women’s Training School, also visited the Center in Beijing to speak with the students. The Social Sciences students also had the opportunity to travel around China and Asia independently during a mid-quarter break week.