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China Study Group

Taiwan, Hong Kong, Beijing, Kunming
Director Fall 2015: Professor John A. Crespi, Department of East Asian Languages and Literature

APPLY ONLINE - Deadline November 7, 2014

The China Study Group gives Colgate students, particularly those with majors or minors in Chinese or Asian studies, the opportunity to acquire first-hand knowledge of cultural, social, economic, and political changes in modern China while improving proficiency in Chinese language. By studying in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Kunming, with interspersed field trips, students will obtain a deep sense of the dynamism and diversity of Chinese culture, history, and society.

The program is hosted in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, by SIT World Learning at Yunnan Nationalities University.

This study group has not been designated to satisfy the Core Global Engagements requirement. Students will need to meet the Global Engagement requirement by enrolling in a designated course offered on campus.

Program Prerequisites

Prerequisites include at least one year’s coursework in Modern Standard Chinese, and Core China, Women in China, or another background course on China as approved by the director.

Course Descriptions

The program equals one semester at Colgate. Students are expected to carry a four-course load, three credits of which (CHIN 481, CHIN 482, and one of the two Chinese language courses), can count toward the Chinese major. The following are required unless special arrangements are made in advance for independent study:

CHIN 481 China in Transition: Professor J. Crespi
This course focuses on topics central to the social, economic, and political transitions in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China. It takes an interdisciplinary approach to such topics as family and social life, education, ethnic and geographic diversity, ecology, economic growth, political development, and international relations. Issues that are most important to present-day China and its emerging role in the world are explored through readings, videos, guest lectures, and discussions, supplemented by field trips to schools, farms, factories, and other sites. The goal is to arrive at understanding through both analysis and experience. Classes begin in Taiwan and continue in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Kunming.

CHIN 482 Topics in Chinese Culture: Professor J. Crespi
This course takes materials from literature, film, art, music, performance, and various forms of popular culture to focus on the long tradition of Chinese culture as well as the personal experience of people living through the changes and continuities discussed in its companion course, China in Transition. It also focuses on the implications of tradition on China’s most pressing issues and their solutions. Guest lectures, readings and discussion are enriched by visits to museums and temples, attendance at performances, and face-to-face meetings with scholars, artists, performers, and others. The goal is to develop sensitivity and imagination as well as understanding. Classes begin in Taiwan and continue in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Kunming.

Chinese Language: Oral. SIT/Yunnan Nationalities University Faculty 
This course emphasizes speaking and listening, through the use of drills, conversation, and audiovisual materials. It meets for 10 classroom contact hours plus weekly immersion learning sessions.

Chinese Language: Written. SIT/Yunnan Nationalities University Faculty
This course is designed to improve reading and writing skills through textbooks and supplemental reading material. It meets 4 hours per week.

Colgate students take one oral and one written language class at a level based on their proficiency in Chinese.

Major Field Trips 

The Study Group will first fly to Taiwan at the end of August and spend eleven days exploring the city of Taipei and touring cultural sites around the island. In Taipei, where we are hosted by National Taiwan Normal University’s College of Management and Office of International Affairs, lectures and site visits will bring to life the profound political, historical, and economic changes that have made Taiwan unique. The Taiwan itinerary also includes educational travel along the rugged East Coast from Taitung to Hualien, during which we will learn about the island’s indigenous communities from local leaders and cultural activists. From Taipei we fly to Hong Kong to be briefed by scholars and to visit cultural and historical institutions through arrangements by the Office of International Student Exchange at the University of Hong Kong. After several days in Hong Kong, we tour China’s political and cultural center, Beijing, spending four days visiting sites of historic and cultural interest.

In mid-September the group settles into Kunming to begin regular classes on the campus of Yunnan Nationalities University. With Kunming as our base, we first make a four-day field trip in October to the ancient towns of Dali and Xizhou to learn in depth about the long history and current transformations among the Bai minority people living at the foothills of the Himalayas. November includes a major field trip through the upland regions of Yunnan province, where local experts and our own explorations reveal some of the great internal diversity of China: city and country, mountain and flatland, Han majority and ethnic minority. This itinerary, which includes a rural homestay, will bring us to the religious site of Shibaoshan, the Naxi minority town of Lijiang, and the high-altitude Tibetan region of Zhongdian. Schedules and itineraries will be finalized in Spring 2015.

 The semester includes two days off from classes in early October as well as a week-long Thanksgiving recess. Students may choose to travel independently during these breaks.

Planned Extracurricular Activities

Colgate students will be paired with Chinese conversation partners at Yunnan Nationalities University for language and cultural exchange. Arrangements also will be made for students to meet informally with Chinese people from all walks of life and to visit and stay overnight in the homes of Chinese families in the city and countryside, including a three-week home stay in the city of Kunming.

Living Arrangements

In Kunming, except for the period of the home stay, students will be housed in a hotel that is walking distance from the Yunnan Nationalities University campus.


For details of student expenses on this study group, please see Student Cost Estimate Sheets.

Passports and Visas

You must confirm that your passport is valid through June 2016. All students participating on the China Study Group will be required to obtain a student visa. With participation on this study group comes the responsibility of understanding and complying with Chinese governmental visa requirements. If you will not be traveling on a U.S. passport it is imperative that you contact an adviser in Off-Campus Study/International Programs, 101 Lathrop, and International Student Services, 103C Lathrop Hall, to learn as much as you can about the regulations. For some students there are significant visa requirements to be met that take time, advance planning, and incur extra costs.

Calendar and Deadlines

All students interested in applying should plan on attending one of the informational sessions.  The deadline for applications to the Fall 2015 China Study Group is Friday, November 7, 2014.  Applications are on the Colgate University Off-Campus Study/International Programs study groups’ websites and are submitted online. Student notification of selections will take place late December 2014.

Information Sessions

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 4:15 p.m. and

Monday, October 20, 2014 at 4:15 p.m.

Both sessions will be held in Lawrence 103

Further Information

All inquiries about the Group may be directed to John A. Crespi at

Helpful Links

Sponsoring Department

East Asian Languages and Literatures Department