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ASIAN STUDIES 1680: Inside China: Society, Business, and Culture in Beijing and Shanghai

Fees and dates for 2016 Maymester


China is one of the world’s most dynamic countries, a powerhouse at the center of the global economy. But what is China like behind all the hype and the headlines? This program is designed to provide students with unique insider’s introduction to China’s economy, society, and culture through classroom instruction and real life interaction. Students will attend seminars on China’s current events and learn basic conversational Chinese skills at one of Beijing’s most prestigious universities. The program also includes multiple trips to a wide variety of institutions where students will have the opportunity to interview individuals from many different walks of life, including entrepreneurs, factory owners, martial arts experts, doctors of traditional Chinese medicine, and migrant workers.

The program will spend approximately two weeks in China’s capital, Beijing and one week in China’s financial center and largest city, Shanghai.

No background in Chinese is required.

This curriculum consists of the following components:


1) Topical Seminars
Students will spend about 1.5 hours every day attending seminars (in English) given by Chinese and American scholars on diverse topics, including current Chinese society, politics, economy, environment, and US-China relations. Students will also have the opportunity to engage in discussions about these issues with Chinese college/graduate students.

2) Language training & language practicum
Students will learn some basic “survival” Chinese language skills in the classroom, and then practice these skills through guided language practicums; that is, through daily communication and interaction with Chinese people both on and off campus. Daily lessons will be directly tied to students’ daily life, excursions, and visits.

3) Field trips & interviews
Field trips will be arranged for students to visit a range of well-known cultural/historical sites, such as the Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square. Students will also have opportunities to visit local businesses, manufacturers, schools, an ultramodern art gallery, a traditional Chinese hospital, a rural community, as well as private homes. In addition, students will have the opportunity to gain “up close and personal” insights into Chinese life through interviews with government employees, business owners, doctors, school teachers, migrant workers, peasants, and Tai chi masters.


The program will spend the last week in Shanghai, which is China’s commercial capital and one of the most phenomenal cities in the world. Activities in Shanghai will include attending lectures on subjects such as China’s globalization and the history of Shanghai. Field trips will include visits to famous sites such as the Bund and Pudong, China's financial and commercial hub. Students will also pay a visit to the American Chamber of Commerce Shanghai office, and chat with Vanderbilt alumni about living and working in Shanghai. Through this program, students will gain in-depth understanding of contemporary China’s social, cultural, political, and economic environment. Ultimately this program will give students a new perspective on their own role in the growing global community that includes both the United States and the People’s Republic of China.

FEES: Cost per student is approximately $8,800. Included: all field trips, cultural visits, and classes/seminars, guest lectures, Tai chi show, acupunctures, high-speed rail from Beijing to Shanghai, housing/hotel for 3 weeks in Beijing and Shanghai, and most meals. (Students will have a meal plan). Not included: airfare (international & national), incidentals, some meals, and personal travel and expenses.

ITINERARY: The instructor and Vanderbilt’s travel agency, Frosch, will develop a common itinerary for students in this course. Although students are responsible for their own airfare, students are encouraged to purchase their air tickets through Frosch. Details to follow.

DATES: Check with Professor Liu for dates for 2016. Fees and dates are subject to change. Course being offered is contingent upon enrolling at least 12 qualified students by the end of January.

ELIGIBILITY: No Prerequisites. The program is open to all majors with good academic standing, and with consent of instructor. Student should be in good health upon committing to the program.

CREDITS: 3 credit hours. ASIA 1680 counts as an INT credit toward AXLE.