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China Study Group

Shanghai, Taiwan, Hong Kong
Director Fall 2019: Professor John A. Crespi
Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures

History of the China Study Group

In 1979, Colgate joined the CIEE consortium and two students spent 3 weeks in China. Professor Theodore Herman prepared the students and they received Colgate credit. CIEE believed the Chinese would permit a semester-long study group in the near future and expect it required 2 years of language preparation.

In 1983, the first Taiwan-China Study Group is established by Professor Chi-Ming Hou. Thirteen students participate in the program; five freshmen, three sophomores, and five juniors went on the China Study Group. The purpose was to give students the opportunity to improve their Chinese Language proficiency while acquiring first-hand knowledge of cultural, social, and economic, and political changes in China.

In recent years, the program was run in Beijing and moved to other places such as Kunming or Shanghai. In the fall of 2016, ten students joined Professor John A. Crespi, to Shanghai with an extended field trip to Taiwan and Hong Kong, which gave a deep sense of the dynamism and diversity of Chinese culture, history, and society. The study group joined CET Academics Program at Donghua University’s downtown campus. Prerequisites continue to be one year’s coursework or equivalent in Modern Standard Chinese as well as Core China or another background course on China approved by the director. The study group runs in the fall biennially.


The China Study Group gives Colgate students, particularly those with majors or minors in Chinese or Asian Studies, the opportunity to improve proficiency in Chinese language while acquiring first-hand knowledge of cultural, social, economic, and political changes in modern China. Studying in Shanghai, with an extended field trip to Taiwan and Hong Kong, will give you a deep sense of the dynamism and diversity of Chinese culture, history, and society.

The study group is hosted in the vibrant, global city of Shanghai by CET Academic Programs at Donghua University’s downtown campus.

Program Prerequisites

Prerequisites include at least one year’s coursework or equivalent in Modern Standard Chinese as well as Core 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 Chinese language course credit) can count toward a Chinese or Asian Studies major, with the fourth, elective course, able to count toward Asian Studies or another major, with pre-approval. The following courses 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 China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. It takes an interdisciplinary approach to topics that may range from family and social life to 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. In Fall 2019 the course will center primarily on a participant-observer, cultural immersion internship. Classes and related activities are held in Shanghai, and include eight one-hour Chinese-language practicum sessions related to the cultural immersion activities internship. This course provides Global Engagement credit.

CHIN 482 Topics in Chinese Culture: Professor J. Crespi

Drawing on literature, film, art, music, performance, and various forms of popular culture, this course explores the long tradition of Chinese culture as well as the personal experience of people living through the changes and continuities that define China today. 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, imagination, and understanding. In Fall 2019 we will focus in particular on issues of tradition, cultural identity, and cultural heritage. Classes and related activities are held in Shanghai. The course culminates in an extended field trip to Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Chinese Language. CET/Donghua University Faculty

Based on their proficiency in Chinese, Colgate students enroll in 14 weeks of Chinese classes for 5 hours per week together with CET students, plus a weekly one-on-one session. Students will receive one credit for the Chinese language course.

One CET Elective

Colgate students will be able to take one CET elective taught in English from the following list, depending on availability and scheduling relative to the director’s classes:

SH/ENVR 220 Global Environment and Development in the 21st Century

SH/ECON 230 The Chinese Economy

SH/ECON 235 The Chinese Consumer: Remaking the World Economy

SH/POLI 240 Politics and Governance

SH/HIST 250 Shanghai: Key to Modern China?

SH/EAST 252 The Making of Modern East Asia

SH/HIST 255 Comparative History of Economic Thought

SH/FILM 270 Contemporary Chinese Cinema

SH/LITR 280 Chinese Literature Today

SH310 International Economics

For full CET syllabi see the CET Shanghai website Academics page. CET electives may count toward non-EALL majors and minors only with prior-approval from the relevant Colgate department or program.

Major Field Trips

The Study Group will fly to Shanghai to begin orientation at Donghua University at the end of August, with regular classes beginning after several days of orientation. At the end of the semester we will visit Hong Kong and Taiwan. We fly first from Shanghai to Hong Kong for two days of meetings with scholars and visits to cultural and historical institutions, assisted by the Office of International Student Exchange at the University of Hong Kong. We will then spend about a week touring cultural sites around the island of Taiwan. In Taipei, hosted by National Taiwan Normal University’s College of Management and Office of International Affairs, various 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. The semester also includes two CET-organized weekend trips to sites of scenic and cultural interest outside Shanghai.

Fall Break runs from October 21-25.  The formal final exam period will immediately precede the end-of-semester study tour to Hong Kong and Taiwan. The study group ends with our departure from Taipei, anticipated on December 20.

Planned Extracurricular Activities

Students participate in the regular meetings of the Chinese Table with their classmates and language instructors, and take part in various activities, such as local travel and family visits, with their Chinese roommates.

Living Arrangements

Each Colgate student will be paired with a Chinese roommate on the Donghua University downtown campus in lodging next door to the classrooms and steps away from subway lines to all quarters of the city of Shanghai.


The cost estimates for this study group will be made available in March 2019. For estimated details of student expenses on this study group, please see the Student Cost Estimate Sheets.

Passports and Visas

You must confirm that your passport is valid through June 2020. 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 and International Student Services, 101 McGregory 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 information sessions.  Study group applications can start being submitted on Wednesday, October 3, 2018, and the final deadline is Wednesday, November 7, 2018.   Applications are submitted online at Student notification of selections will take place late December 2018.

Information Sessions will be held on:

  • Monday, October 15 at 4:15 p.m.
    101A McGregory Hall

  • Wednesday, October 17 at 4:15 p.m.
    101A McGregory Hall

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