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Chinese Studies is a multi-disciplinary programme focused on studying and learning through direct engagement with China. With an emphasis on teaching in English and training for effective communication in international arenas, the programme offers an integrated exploration of the complexities of Chinese history, culture, languages and contemporary society, including the integrated realms of the economy, governance, and business, for majors intent on becoming the globally-oriented China-specialist analysts, cross-cultural communicators and network builders of the twenty-first century.

This major is designed for two streams of students distinguished by Chinese language fluency, i.e. (1) International Stream (IS) and (2) Chinese Native-Speaker Stream (CNSS). Students in each stream pursue a subset of learning offerings tailored to their language capacities while completing most of their course work in a shared learning environment in which international and Chinese native-speaker students learn from each other and pursue collaborative projects together.

Special features of the programme include (1) the commitment to having students attain a high level of proficiency in both Chinese (Putonghua) and English; (2) the commitment to having all students undergo an intensive term-long target-language, social-cultural ‘immersion’ experience; (3) the commitment to directing ‘on-the-ground’ learning about China through required experiential and social enterprise courses; (4) the commitment to a student-centered, ‘liberal arts’ interactive mode of instruction that emphasizes developing skills in critical-thinking, rational analysis, and logical persuasive argumentation to carry out original in-depth research on Greater China.

Gateway to China

The vicissitudes in the history of China have created a rich diversity that both fascinates and puzzles us. And today, as the most populous country and an emerging superpower, China is a force to reckon with. Hence, there is always a great demand for teaching that helps students from different cultural backgrounds to acquire the essential skills and knowledge for getting a grasp on the many faces of China. It is this awareness of cross-cultural engagement that makes CUHK’s Chinese Studies stand out. The Chinese Studies offered by CUHK was designed to give students a good understanding of the nation through scholarship and first-hand experience.

Prof. David Faure, Director of the Centre for China Studies, pointed out that the programme commits itself to a flexible, individualized approach to guiding and teaching students. Such an approach has proved indispensable to helping them acquire the cultural and linguistic competencies to live and study in the Greater China region.

‘We provide small class experiences, ample faculty advising and support, and foster a culture of integration,’ he added.

Soohyung Park, a graduate went for graduate studies in London, is impressed by the diverse backgrounds of both the faculty and students of the programme.

‘This programme is by far the most diverse programme within CUHK. Through interacting with students from backgrounds totally different from mine, I was soon to appreciate the fact that we could approach the same issue from a wide range of vantage points, and come up with different interpretations.’

On top of an individualized approach, the programme seeks to deepen students’ learning by linking the study of China with other academic disciplines and areas of expertise relevant to their professional development. Students are prepared and encouraged to combine their studies with a particular academic discipline, such as economics and development, urbanization and environmental studies, political science, history, anthropology, etc. Many students take up law, business, hospitality, public health, Chinese medicine, and communications as a minor and second major.

Another feature of CUHK’s Chinese Studies is the strong emphasis it places on English and Chinese linguistic skills. International students studying Chinese as a second language will take intensive language study programmes. By leveraging on CUHK’s networks in Hong Kong and Mainland China, individualized fieldwork courses, internship courses, and social engagement-language learning courses are also made available.

The ‘on the ground’ learning experience in China during the faculty-led fieldtrip not only proves essential for language acquisition, but also for cultural competency, as Soohyung noted.

To help students consolidate their ‘on the ground’ learning with classroom learning, senior students are required to go through advanced research analysis training in a series of designated seminars and capstone course tutorials. At the end of the training, they are expected to produce a final research paper on their particular area of interest about China.

His research project on defense studies prepared him for further academic training at King’s College of London, and he is planning to pursue further studies at the National Defense University of Korea.

‘My goal is to become an outstanding researcher in the field of defense,’ the budding scholar said.

In Soohyung’s view, lack of knowledge about China is a hindrance to anyone who wishes to become a truly global citizen. His international outlook would certainly open a broad vista for life’s many rewards and adventures.

Published: Summer 2017
Revised: Summer 2018
Last Updated: Summer 2019