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Skidmore College
Off-Campus Study & Exchanges

The Rise of China: Boundaries, Movement, and Change

*The China travel seminar is scheduled to run in May 2021 but is currently pending due to the US Department of State Travel Advisory.*

This travel seminar examines how different segments of the Chinese population navigate the old and the new, the global and the local, as China transitions from a socialist planned economy to a more market-oriented economy and plays a larger role in the global economy and politics. Specifically, the seminar will focus on the social, political, and cultural boundaries established to stratify different groups of people in China and how those boundaries are shifted or challenged through migration and flows of ideas and goods, both domestic and global. Students will have the chance to gain first-hand experience of the interplay between social structures and people’s personal biographies and to closely examine social institutions and policies specific to China, such as the one-child policy, hukou or household registration system, mixed property ownership, and the hybridity of the market and the state.

Focusing on the mega-city of Shanghai with a short excursion to Nanjing, students will visit shopping and cultural venues that cater to different social classes, observe the city’s urban renewal and development, and investigate tensions between migrant workers and the city’s “original” residents to better understand the connections between the local and the global, the old and the new. Students are expected to do extra reading, write journals, and participate in discussions while in China, and turn in a final reflection paper after they are back from the travel.

Learning Goals

Through this travel seminar, students will:

  • further understand social institutions and policies specific to China, such as the one-child policy and the hukou system;
  • gain first-hand experiences and observations of how different groups of people navigate the social, economic, political, and cultural landscape in Shanghai and Nanjing and how the cities’ governments interpret the cities’ history, design and implement policies, and envision the future;
  • learn to be culturally sensitive and to understand cultural complexities in order to more respectfully, appropriately, and effectively interact and communicate across cultural differences.

Sample itinerary*

Day 1: Depart New York City for Shanghai, China

Day 2:  Arrival in Shanghai; welcome dinner

Day 3: Orientation and language course (AM); lecture "The Impact of Urbanization in Shanghai on Local Neighborhoods" (PM)

Day 4: Visit to elementary school (AM); visit a local NGO, Shanghai Urban Planning Museum, East Nanjing Road and the Bund (PM)

Day 5: Musuem of the Founding of the Communist Party and Xintiandi shopping district (AM); Yu Garden and City God Temple (PM)

Day 6: High-speed train to Nanjing (AM); visit to Nanjing University and roundtable discussion, Confucius Temple (PM)

Day 7: Dr. Sun Yat-san’s Mauseleum (PM); The Ming Dynasty Palace (PM); 1912 Bar and Club Street (evening)

Day 8: Laomen East Pedestrian Street (AM); High-speed train back to Shanghai (PM); class discussion (evening)

Day 9: Marriage Market in People's Park (AM); Shanghai Renewal Center (PM); Huangpu River cruise (evening)

Day 10: Lecture "Sustainability in SThe Bundhanghai" and "Shanghai's Colonial History and Its Ongoing Impact (AM); visit to Coca-Cola (PM)

Day 11: Clothing market visit (AM); class discussion and wrap-up (PM); farewell dinner (evening)

Day 12: Departure for New York City

*subject to change

Important Information

DatesMay 21-June 1, 2021

CorequisiteStudents will enroll in SO 215 (China in Transition) for the spring 2021 semester. 

Credits3 credit for SO 215 and 1 credits for TX200A. 

Program Fee: The anticipated fee is $5,000. The program fee includes Skidmore tuition; round-trip airfare between New York and Shanghai, China; ground transportation for program excursions; on-site accommodations in shared rooms; some meals; visa processing; international medical insurance; entrance fees; excursions and activities, and Skidmore faculty. Financial aid is available for eligible students. 

Meals and Accommodation: Students will stay in double rooms in local hotels. Some group meals are included and students will receive a meal stipend for additional meals.

Flights: Roundtrip airfare from New York City to Shanghai, China is included in the program fee. Students are required to make their own way to/from New York City. 

Application Process: The deadline for applications is October 15, 2020. Students are required to apply for Travel Seminars through the MyOCSE portal.  Applications will be reviewed and students will be notified of acceptances before fall 2020 course registration. Students will then be required to register for SO 215 for the spring 2021 semester.


Stop by the OCSE office (Starbuck 202) or contact Professor Xiaoshuo Hou ( directly.