Spring Social Sciences 2014: Bringing Contemporary China into Focus

  • Social Sciences in Beijing 2014 students and their Shandong University student buddies enjoy Daming Lake Park in Jinan, Shandong. All photos by Teaching Assistant Ben Ross.

  • Students take in a tea ceremony with their Chinese teachers during an excursion to Maliandao tea market in Beijing.

  • UChicago undergraduates grab a selfie on the Great Wall at Mutianyu.

June 12, 2014

The Social Sciences in Beijing Study Abroad spring quarter program presents students with an opportunity to delve into China’s economic transformation and rising global impact from the inside. The quarter’s classes painted a rich picture of contemporary China’s economy, society, and politics, as considered from a vantage point in Beijing. In addition to taking a full load of courses, the 2014 Social Sciences cohort were adventurous travelers, using weekends and a mid-term break to explore the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Gansu, Inner Mongolia, and Shaanxi.

The program also brought students on an overnight group trip to Shandong province, with a visit to UChicago’s longtime collaborator institution Shandong University, in Jinan, for an exchange day with local college student buddies; the group then explored the historic city of Qufu, the ancestral home of Confucius.

The 15 students in the 2014 spring program, undergraduates in the College from a range of majors, connected their classroom learning to the reality of modern China through weekly site visits to government bureaus, NGOs, museums, and businesses. This year’s set of English-language social sciences courses kicked off with Professor of Political Science and Center in Beijing Faculty Director Dali Yang’s three-week class on “Chinese Foreign Policy.” For the following six weeks, William Parish (Professor Emeritus of Sociology) taught a course on “Understanding Social Change in China,” while Tao Ran (Professor of Economics, Renmin University of China) taught a class on “China’s Economic Development and Transition.” The Study Abroad students also took Chinese language classes from Renmin University of China language instructors each afternoon.