Contemporary Chinese Society

Learn about the momentous changes taking place in contemporary Chinese society while seeing them up close. 

Contemporary Chinese Society
July 1 – August 9, 2019
Yuanpei College, Peking University, Beijing

Yu Xie, Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Sociology

This is a particularly exciting time to know what is going on in China today. After its unification in 1949, China remained poor, undeveloped and isolated from the rest of the world until 1978, when economic reform initiated a new era. Since initiating market reforms in 1978, China has shifted from a centrally-planned to a market-based economy and has experienced rapid economic and social development. GDP growth has averaged nearly 10 percent a year — the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history — and has lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty. China has been undergoing a social transformation of which the scope, rapidity and impact are unprecedented in human history; all aspects of Chinese society are changing fundamentally and forever.

The seminar will offer an introduction to some of the most prominent features of Chinese society, including an overview of modern China that the government, politics and the economy; educational system; differences between rural and urban China; wealth disparity and social inequality; migration; marriage and family; minorities and ethnicity; and religion. Through in-class lectures, student presentations and field excursions, the seminar will provide a substantive introduction to sociological perspectives of China that will allow an understanding of social changes in China and their long-term impact on not only the 1.3 billion Chinese now living in China — the largest population in the world today — but also people living elsewhere in developed as well as developing countries.

Previous guest lecturers have included: Jet Li, Chinese actor and producer, to speak about his philanthropic activities; C.H. Tung, the first Chief Executive of Hong Kong, to speak on Sino-US relations; venture capitalists; Chinese health care experts and lawyers; among others.

Classes will be held at Yuanpei College, Peking University’s preeminent residential college, and there will be numerous excursions throughout the country to examine China’s growing wealth and social disparities and the impact of fast-paced economic growth on society as well as the regional differences in culture and traditions of China. Among the excursions will be a weekend trip to examine rural life, minorities and religion in China. This trip to Datong includes visits to the Yungang Buddhist Prayer Grottoes and Hanging Monastery. The ancient town of Pingyao may also be included. Another weekend excursion is a visit to Shanghai, a highly historical city and unique economic zone. China is unique in its economic development model and Shanghai is representative of China’s phenomenal growth. The visit will include tours of Shanghai’s stock exchange, factory and business incubator visits, and historic facets of Shanghai.

This seminar fulfills the social analysis (SA) general education requirement.

“Contemporary Chinese Society” is cosponsored by the Paul and Marcia Wythes Center on Contemporary China, and generously funded by the Drs. Charles C. and Marie S. Yu P83 Global Seminar Fund.

Course Fee: $5,200

Includes all housing, required course excursions, related academic expenses, visas, estimated personal meals and estimated airfare ($1,700). World Travel, the University travel agency, will book all participants’ flights. Details on the required booking process will be provided by seminar administrators.

All participants should budget an additional $700 for personal expenses and be prepared to cover costs of required and routine immunizations (estimated $50) as recommended by University Health Services. The immunization costs are covered in full for students enrolled in the University’s Student Health Plan. For students covered by families’ health insurance or other insurance plans, the associated costs will vary. International phone plans are highly recommended for all students.

Financial Aid

Students accepted into a Global Seminar and receive term financial aid automatically receive funding toward the course fee and personal meals based on the level of term aid. Possibilities for additional financial support may be available through the Student Activities Funding Engine (SAFE). Princeton subsidized Student Loans, available from the Office of Financial Aid, are also highly recommended. Contact the Office of Financial Aid for more information.

Students who accept a place in a Global Seminar and then, before the seminar begins, withdraw or cannot participate because they are no longer enrolled at Princeton will lose the nonrefundable deposit and any unrecoverable costs. There are no refunds after the start of the program.

This seminar is cosponsored by the Paul and Marcia Wythes Center on Contemporary China and generously funded by the Drs. Charles C. and Marie S. Yu P83 Global Seminar Fund. PIIRS Global Seminars are also made possible in part by the generous contributions of alumni and friends and ongoing efforts of the Office of Development.

Questions? Contact Yan Bennett, Center Manager, Center on Contemporary China, or Phillip Rush, Events Coordinator and Office Assistant, Center on Contemporary China.