Exploratory Mini-Term Courses | Duke Kunshan University

Exploratory Mini-Term Courses

 

A “Dark History” of Psychology: Controversial Psychology Studies Before the Age of Ethics Codes and Institutional Review Boards

This one-week course focuses on an important topic in psychology - ethics in the conduct of psychology research (e.g. collection of data). Nowadays, universities and research institutes have ethics committees dedicated to the rights and well-being of research subjects which often involve humans or animals. Researchers in psychology must gain approval before conducting any experiment to protect the interests of human participants and laboratory animals. This provides students with an opportunity to study the conduct of psychology and behavioral research in a refreshing way by acting as Institutional Review Board members. Students will critically examine influential past studies, such as Bandura’s bobo dull, the Stanford prison experiment, the Milgram shock experiment and Neubauer’s identical twin adoption/separation studies, that are considered controversial or unethical today. There will be four sessions. The first session will briefly introduce the idea of psychology research ethics. In the second session, we will view a documentary of an influential yet controversial psychology/behavioral study. In the following session, students will conduct an evidence-based discussion or debate about the study, as well as the credibility of the documentary. Finally, we will digest some additional highly controversial psychology studies in history based on group presentations.

Instructor: Shan Wang


Advertising Across Cultures: The Power of Intercultural Communication

Did you know that on average we are exposed to over 5000 ads per day? But why do some ads ‘stick’ and others don’t? The power of intercultural communication and its impact on society cannot be underestimated. In this course, we will explore the visual and rhetorical moves used by the media in the world of advertising both in the classroom and, if possible, through a field trip to Shanghai – a global powerhouse of outdoor advertising. We will use intercultural communication theories and frameworks to help us understand how the advertising industry uses models of national culture, such as Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, to appeal to different cultures. Furthermore, we will discuss the significance of consumer society and the role that language and culture play in advertising to local and global audiences. A comparison and contrast of the intercultural communicative paradigms of advertising discourse will be undertaken, with reference to various strategies and appeals including Shock, Humor, Sex Appeal, and Emotion. To demonstrate your learning, you will apply theory to create an original advertisement for a specified audience and provide a critical analysis of its effectiveness. Transferable skills including critical thinking, theoretical application and creativity will all be fostered in this course.

Instructors: Laura Davies and Joseph Davies


Anatomy of a Remake

This Mini-Term will take a deep and detailed dive into a single film story, Ghost in the Shell (1995; 2017), and explore the industrial, cultural and creative ways it has been “remade”. Often considered to be a characteristic of contemporary Hollywood, remakes have a long history in film. They go all the way back to the medium’s first decade when artists routinely “copied” their rivals work for their own fairground and nickelodeon screenings. Since then, popular examples have colored film in different ways. The 1939 remake of Wizard of Oz made use of the period’s technological developments in order to emphasize Dorothy Gale’s shift in diegetic space from Kansas to Munchkin Land while also doubling to signpost the industry’s nascent shift from black-and-white to color film. Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, and Hideo Oguni’s 1959 story, Seven Samurai, and its subsequent remakes highlights the ways film narratives can move across genre and production modes, most notably rendered in Pixar’s animated film, A Bug’s Life (1998). Meanwhile, this year’s Disney-live-action film, Mulan (2020), the sixth cinematic iteration of the Chinese poem (1927; 1928; 1963; 1998; 2009), shows the ways remakes can cross national industry borders and cultures; a typically fraught crossing that often leads to awkward cultural and/or racial reconfigurations. At their core, these remakes and others have a discursive nature that reveals many details about production context and creativity. In this course, you will learn about film technique and style, national and popular industry dynamics, franchise paratexts, and contemporary film discourse. By the end of this mini-term course, you will have read a graphic novel, watched two films and an episode of a television series, and dissected each one to develop your own understanding of film, and the structures and parts of a remake.

Instructor: David Hare


American Business History: How Companies and Entrepreneurs Created a World Power

How did the United States transform from a marginal British colony at its founding in 1776 into the world’s largest industrial and agricultural producer at the beginning of the twentieth century? What role did American businesspeople and companies play in their country’s ascent? Why did businesses assume such massive scale in the United States? In this mini-term course, we will explore the exciting transformation of American business from the colonial period to the present. By analyzing a wide array of business leaders and enterprises at different stages of American history, you will develop a thorough understanding of how business came to acquire such political power and cultural centrality in the United States. Meanwhile, using American business history as a case study, this course sheds light on the significance of entrepreneurship, capital, and a culture of business in the making of a world power - a crucial issue that is facing China today.

Instructor: Zhaojin Zeng


A Tale of Two Sides: Genome and Phenome in Global Environmental Issues

One gene one bean color. How about one genome one phenome? Have you ever wondered whether all global environmental issues, or more generally any biological events/behaviors, have a genomic basis? Why harmful algal blooms (HABs) have been expanding in eutrophic waters on a global scale in the past century on a global scale? Why is it so hard to control anywhere? In this course, we will explore how HABs originate in different parts of the world through literature search so as to create a world map of HABs, besides a field trip to Lake Taihu to see cyanobacterial HABs. Next, we will examine the genomic functional repertoire specialized in utilizing elevated nutrients and physical factors in driving the formation of HABs, particularly cyanobacterial HABs. Finally, a map connecting the genomic functions and environmental factors in driving HABs will be created. Through the lens of global HABs, two important real-life lessons will be gained: (1) life on this planet is very adaptive globally enabled by genomic functional repertoire and (2) our way of life creates self-threatening environmental hazards. On that note, we should learn to live responsibly to achieve harmony and sustainability with our planet earth as next-generation global citizens.

Instructor: Huansheng Cao


BOO!!!: Telling Ghost (Hi)stories

BOO!!! is a class that takes scary stories seriously. In the best horror movies, ghosts have a story to tell. Ghosts are voices from the past, often the byproduct of murder, mass violence, or gross injustice. In many of these stories, hauntings are signposts to events that a community wants to hide or forget, but the ghost compels the living to confront the past. In this way, ghost stories are spectral histories of repressed traumas and almost forgotten injustice. Our class will look at scary films, mostly from Asia, that use the horror genre as a tool to wage political and cultural criticism. Class will include film viewings, discussion, and readings on the covert politics of the horror genre in Asia. The course will challenge student groups to create their own spooky stories which can be shared with the DKU community.

Instructor: Bryce Beemer


Cuisine on the Screen

Food, glorious food. If you haven’t noticed the proliferation of food and eating in the media that you consume, you haven’t been paying attention. Why are we attracted to these television shows and this on-line content? Why is this phenomenon happening now? What are the larger, global factors in fueling food tourism and the rise of local pride as expressed in regional cuisine? Food and the rituals of eating in a community tell us so many things about our culture and the culture of others. Not only that, but by looking at food, we can trace fibers of history and predict a future of strife as well as one of hope. We will analyze a selection of films, television, and online video content over the past fifty years from China, Japan, and the US to allow us to explore intersections of environmental science and politics, baked-in paradigms in media and culture, filmic techniques and shifting platforms of communication, and more. As a way to dig into these issues you will develop your own cuisine-based online show and make a 30 second – 1 minute advertisement for it.

Instructor: Seth Henderson


Engendering Labor: Narrating Women’s Work in the Era of Global Sweatshops

This mini-course takes the figure of the woman worker as an analytical lens to examine the worlds of labor, gender, migration, industrialization, race, and transnational connections in an era of global capitalism. By delving into the narratives of women workers, such as interviews, novels, ethnographies, poems, songs, films, across various historical and geographic contexts, students gain first-hand insights into the experiences of female workers. We will analyze how these woman workers negotiate labor exploitation, violence, gendered expectations, and personal desires and how these experiences were/are key in shaping some major bulwarks of our society, such as market, industry, and inequality. Using historical and anthropological texts, news articles, and a film, students will use a wide range of interactive materials to imagine and create various worlds of gendered labor. By the end of this 4-day mini-course, students will experiment in a final project of their own choosing. They will narrate their own understanding of the woman worker. This project has to demonstrate a level of creative output, either in textual or visually creative form. Examples may include a poem, a short story, a 10- minute performance, a personal interview, or photography series, a mini-documentary, or an art/craft project.

Instructors: Nellie Chu and Titas Chakraborty


Experimental Social Science for Dummies

Most of us have heard of the term “correlation is not equal to causation”. It is used widely by academicians, politicians, policy-makers, businessmen, and journalists. Yet, many of them continue to equate correlation with causation either deliberately or unwittingly, to arrive at the conclusion that they desire. In this course, we are going to learn what causation is using experimental design in ways that are intuitive and “cutting-edge”. Specifically, students will learn how to conduct experiments in a laboratory, as well as conducting it using a wide variety of web-based platforms. Students are not expected to have any statistical or sophisticated computer programming skills. However, the goal of this course is for them to have better understanding of what constitute causality and be more critical when evaluating any causal claims that are being presented to them.

Instructor: Lie Philip Santoso


Friendship and the Good Society: The Ethics and Politics of Human Connections

Friendship is rarely discussed in contemporary presidential or legislative debates. Nonetheless, it raises profound ethical and political questions. Aristotle, for example, asserted that friendship among citizens is at the heart of a healthy political community. The British novelist E.M. Forster, on the other hand, once remarked that if he “had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.” It is not entirely clear, therefore, whether friendship is the ultimate threat to the community, or its greatest source of support. In this course, we will explore the moral puzzles of friendship through philosophy, literature, and film. Having done so, we will examine the ways in which friendship is cultivated at DKU. How does DKU seek to foster friendship among the community? How might we do so in a more effective manner? What special challenges are generated by our attempts to build relationships across national and linguistic boundaries? We will conclude by exploring these questions through discussion with DKU’s leaders and staff, in order to better understand the challenges that confront our community.

Instructor: Lincoln Rathnam


From Lecture Halls to Opera: Theatres How Do They Sound?

Have you recognized that clapping in a dorm, in a lecture hall or in a music theatre sounds differently? This difference represents the response of a room to sound. Music played in a lecture hall may sound “dry” and speech given in a music theatre may be imperceptible. How can you quantify such a difference with your smartphone and what can we learn from the difference? Can we understand it from the fundamentals of wave propagation and reflection? Can we find the “best” lecture hall on campus, or the “best” music theatre in town? From basic knowledge on acoustics to hand-on tutorials on a software package based on ISO standard, this course aims at providing you with necessary knowledge so that you can have-a-go in a 'mini' project designed by you and other team members. Note that basic knowledge on programming is helpful, but not mandatory.

Instructor: Kai Huang


From Light to the Whole Spectrum: Phenomena and Applications

Visual information is the main channel we receive information in our daily life, which is based on light. What is the nature of light? Is it a kind of particle or wave? By exploring this question using demos (light interference and photoelectric effect), we will extend the idea to the broad electromagnetic (EM) spectrum, from gamma rays to radio frequencies. How much energy is carried by EM wave? Why is it harmful to be exposed to X-rays, but not so for regular usage of mobile phones? What are the applications of EM waves around us? The course will be delivered qualitatively with a minimum introduction of the laws of physics, such as the conservation of energy. Students will have chances to discuss and present their own understanding of the phenomena and applications of EM waves and be trained to think critically and logically. At the end of the week, students are expected to generate a report/poster or a demo presentation (or a combination) about a specific topic related to the content of this course (physics, application, or DIY demo lab which can be arranged using the existing equipment in our teaching lab and/or my research lab) in groups of 2-3 students.

Intructor: Changcheng Zheng


Getting the Ink Flowing: Everyday Forms for Creative Writing

Many people want to write, or be writers, or in some way make writing more a part of their lives. But almost everybody feels barriers to doing this. Often, it’s a lack of inspiration, a feeling that we’re not “in the zone,” or that our writing is not “good enough.” Many people, from experienced writers to novices, feel that the pleasure of writing as creative play does not infect their lives as fully as it could. In this course, we’ll experiment with various strategies aimed at “getting the ink flowing.” From walking poems to miniature memoirs to creative translations and re-imaginings, in each activity we’ll harness the natural power of a form or genre to generate writing, in such a way that one cannot fail to write. By doing so, we’ll experience how it’s possible for inspiration to arise from the act of writing, rather than the other way around. Students will write in class, read their work aloud for one another, and sometimes leave the campus for short field trips. Writing in multiple languages will be encouraged.

Instructor: Austin Woerner


Know Thyself: The Practices and Challenges of Examining Your Own Mind

How does the human mind work? What is the nature of consciousness? These questions are deeply rooted in everything from academic fields such as economics, sociology, psychology, and neuroscience to teachings such as Daoism, Buddhism, and Christianity. All of these traditions have their own ways of studying the mind, often making bold and sometimes contradictory assertions about what consciousness is. The field of psychology, in particular, has had a tortured and perhaps schizophrenic relationship with the mind. Early psychologists such as Sigmund Freud and William James promoted inquiries into one’s own mind in the form of introspection. Later American behaviorists such as John Watson and B.F. Skinner rejected introspection as a mode of inquiry. Now in the last several decades classical contemplative techniques in Buddhism and yoga have collided with fMRI machines and electroencephalography (EEGs) and reshaped neuroscience. Introspection and contemplation are mainstream again, and groundbreaking science has opened a possibility to revisit the classical practices of contemplation. In this course, we examine the new and emerging field of contemplative studies through both the academic literature and the hands-on (or minds-on!) experience of different modes of contemplation.

Instructors: Ben Van Overmeire and Jeff Nicolaisen


“Mad Women” in Literature and Film

Women who are – or are presumed or perceived to be – living with mental illness have been variously portrayed throughout the histories of literature and film. Many portrayals demonstrate a tendency to label women as “mad” when their behavior does not conform to patriarchal expectations. These portrayals have reflected and shaped perceptions of mental illness, gender, and gendered sexuality. They thus provide a unique lens through which to explore questions about our concepts of mental illness, and how they interact with ideas about gender, and gendered sexuality. In doing so, we will ask: To what extent are our notions of mental illness socially constructed, and culturally variable? How should we understand the connections between constructions of mental illness and constructions of femininity and sexuality throughout the 20th century? In addressing these questions, we will proceed chronologically through American literary and film representations of women living with mental illness, pairing books with their film representations, in order to gain perspective on how understandings of appropriate vs. pathological female behavior have changed over the past century.

Instructor: Emily McWilliams


Moral Machines: How can AI Make Moral Decisions?

The more we rely on AI to make our decisions, the more important it is that they make these decisions correctly. The rapid advances of the last decade have enable AI to make effective decisions – but we have made little progress on ensuring that they make ethical decisions. This means that, while we can count on AI to provide an effective solution, these may include solutions that we would find morally unacceptable. In this class, we will learn about various approaches being explored to enable AI to think morally. We will cover a wide variety of approaches (e.g., standards for training data, explicit moral encoding, bottom-up replications of moral psychology, etc.) and related challenges (e.g., algorithmic bias, the alignment problem/AI safety, unexplainable AI, etc.) through literature in various academic disciplines (e.g., computer science, ethics, psychology, etc.) and in science fiction across media (e.g., movies, video games) that discuss or depict moral machines. Come and see what it will mean to give a computer a conscience!

Instructor: Daniel Weissglass


Presencing the Past: Reliving Memories of Kunshan through Augmented Reality

This course offers students an exciting opportunity to discover our community in creative ways and create an interactive augmented reality (AR) map based on their own explorations. This workshop-based mini-term course includes field trips if possible, as well as historical and cultural research and hands-on experiences. We will explore the possibility of visits to selected sites in Kunshan to collect photos and videos. Upon completion of the trips, students will collectively draw a map of Kunshan, and each marked location on the map will serve as a trigger of AR content. Students will embed images and videos from the field trip in the map, and the map will reveal multiple layers of visual information regarding the sites. Students will learn how to use the AR software platforms Unity and Vuforia to easily generate AR content. After four days of fun and interactive field trips, research, and drawing and technology workshops, students will have created their own interactive AR map of our community that delivers historical information, personal and collective memoirs, and fresh perspectives on Kunshan.

Instructor: Jung Choi


Radiation 101

We live in a “radiation” environment, from food to construction material, from 3C products to medical imaging, from sunspots to nuclear power plants. So, we need to understand “radiation” to avoid unnecessary fear of radiation. Many people love to use “radiation” products (such as cell phones), but meanwhile they are afraid of the radiation hazard associated with the products. To stay safe when you enjoy these products is the goal of this course. This course is designed for students to understand radiation. We will walk students through the radiation sources and its properties to “understand” radiation. Then we will introduce radiation hazards followed by how to detect radiation and how to protect ourselves from radiation hazards. Finally, we will present the radiation applications in our life and the potential future study and career development in the radiation field. After you complete the course, you will have a clear picture of radiation and a way to enjoy radiation products without fear and to protect yourselves from radiation hazards. The course will also help you to explore this field for further study and career development. This course will include class lecture/discussion, literature search, group presentation and talks by guest speakers. We may have a field trip to a hospital or industry site. Welcome to make “friends” with Radiation!

Instructor: David Huang


Take It Personally! Surprising Effects of Personality Traits

What is the connection between cyberbullying, performing better on your first exam in college, rigorously wearing a mask amidst COVID-19, having a successful marriage, being a Scandinavian with brown eyes, and committing emotional infidelity? All of these things are associated with the same personality trait---Agreeableness. (Yes, you have read it right: dark-eyed North Europeans are more agreeable; and agreeable men are less emotionally faithful---unlike agreeable women!). This class will introduce you to the exciting insights from personality psychology. First, we will discuss how psychologists evaluate personalities using individual reports, behavioral observations, and big data. You will gain first-hand experience with personality evaluation tests such as Big Five, the Dark Triad, and MBPT; improve your understanding of your own individual talents and predispositions; and learn how to complete and evaluate personality inventories. Second, we will learn about the counterintuitive effects of personality traits on social, economic, political, and sexual decisions. Finally, the course will complete with job interview simulations with Myers-Briggs personality typing---one of the most frequent tools in employers’ assessment worldwide. Through this simulation, you will learn how to take advantage of your personality during dates, exams, and job interviews.

Instructor: Irina Soboleva


The Anthropologists on Wall Street

Wall Street tells us so much about the ethos and contradictions of our times. Do banks help those in need or exploit the poor by charging them interest? Is Wall Street the engine of global economy or the center of waste and corruption? In this Mini Term, we will follow several anthropologists who explore the cultures of banking in contemporary societies. We will read short ethnographic narratives about the culture of Wall Street and international consulting firms. We will watch and analyze popular representations of finance through movies and documentaries. If resources and staffing allow, we will also visit the financial district in Shanghai. This course emphasizes the power of story-telling in the financial sector—a field that is widely believed by many to be ruled by numbers and equations. Come if you want a humanized understanding of banking and finance.

Instructor: Mengqi Wang


The Art and Science of Persuasion

Do YOU want to be happy and successful? Of course, you do! We all know DKU students care about their futures. That’s why students like you are always telling me they want a course this useful. Let’s be honest, we all know persuasion is how leaders get things done. Sadly, most people don’t understand persuasion, but now you will! Academics act like reason, arguments, and evidence actually persuade people. The top CEOs, politicians, and advertisers know it doesn’t work that way, though. That’s why I’ll teach you how to use the very best of what these persuasion professionals know. You will learn the keys to persuasion from the latest in psychology, neuroscience, and data science, then collect the best examples of effective persuasion from the real world and apply their strategies to unleash your own tactical and creative power in opinion pieces, idea pitches, negotiation games, commercials, and more! Together, we will also develop a REAL CAMPAIGN for positive change at DKU. As a SPECIAL BONUS, I have convinced the Head of Business Development at a thriving Chinese social enterprise to discuss her persuasion secrets and help you improve! Spots are limited and smart students will be signing up fast!

Instructor: Daniel Stephens


The President and the Dissident: Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, the American Slavery Crisis and the Power of Words

This fun and engaging class will consider two of the most consequential figures of US history Abraham Lincoln, the most widely admired American president, and the antislavery orator Frederick Douglass, the best-known 19th century leader of an American opposition movement. Working with key texts by each, we will try to grasp the deep paradoxes of their relationship. Near contemporaries, both came from unprivileged backgrounds and had little formal education—but one was a free man and white, the other a former slave and black. In fashioning very different roles, both were addressing a shared dilemma: how to balance the moral and political dimensions of the slavery issue to advance a national transformation. Through class debates, role playing, mock interviews, and panel discussions, we will engage with the historical and social phenomena embedded in Lincoln’s and Douglass’s words. These exercises will culminate in a final presentation of creative responses to these figures using media such as spoken word, music, theater, film and visual arts. The course will inspire creative thinking and collaborative engagement in a 21st century multicultural context.

Instructor: Selina Lei-Henderson


The Science and Art of Fractals

How long is the British coastline? How large is the Amazon River system? What does the Mandelbrot set mean, apart from its thrilling appearance? Behind all these interesting questions lies the universal idea of Fractal. It is not only the key to the explanation of many natural phenomena, but also an inspiration to endless artistic creations. This mini-term course covers fundamental concepts about fractals, such as scaling, dimension and self-similarity. From hand-on experience of computer simulations and teamwork of self-directed projects, students will work through concrete examples of fractals, discover the principles by themselves and eventually be able to create fractal patterns of their own. The course is opened to students of all backgrounds who have strong interests in seeing the interplay between scientific ideas and aesthetic morphologies. The small amount of mathematics and physics knowledge used in this course will be made self-contained. Access to computers is needed to process the course materials. At the end of the week, students will be asked to do a small final project, either scientific or artistic, that can be summarized into a report, a poster or a computer demo.

Instructor: Kai Zhang


Thinking on your Feet: What can Performance tell us about Human Cognition?

Have you ever wondered why certain postures, movements and physical traits seem specific to a specific culture or class? While the human brain is often envisioned like a computer system and the body its physical tool, the relationship may in fact be more complex and intertwined. This course invites you outside of your comfort zone, quite literally, by asking you to move in a different way. The basic training of kunqu role-types involves relearning how to walk, stand and perform basic movements in a prescribed manner. Under the guidance of a professional kunqu actor, you will undergo four mornings of training in a specific role type. In the afternoons we will discuss a number of readings across a wide variety of disciplines, from theatre studies to psychology and sociology to robotics. We will reflect not just on what kunqu can tell us about the future, but on the extent to which perception, behaviors and even thoughts are embedded in social contexts and bodily states.

Instructor: Kim Hunter Gordon


P4C: Little People, Big Questions

Nowhere is there greater willingness to ask big questions than among little people. Philosophy for Children (P4C) programs respond to this by facilitating philosophical discussions among children. What makes you the person you are? What is work? What does it mean to love someone? Questions like these are often what animates children’s books, and children are generally prepared to ask and respond to these questions in myriad interesting ways. In this course, we’ll design, develop, and deliver our own P4C session. We’ll start by collectively reading and discussing a variety of children’s books, the best of which often are engaging for children and adults alike in virtue precisely of their skillful, playful, or artful interaction with philosophical questions. We’ll amplify that collection of examples by sharing children’s books from our own experience and trying to figure out what made them good. We’ll then create children’s books of our own and design a discussion activity around them. In collaboration with a local international school, we’ll take our work into an elementary school classroom at the end of the week (either in person or virtually, depending on conditions).

Instructor: Kyle Fruh


Quantum Games

Exploring the Strange Quantum Worlds Through Games: Would you like to explore a strange world where the famous Schrödinger’s cat can be both alive and dead? This mini-course offers a fun and approachable way for students with any backgrounds to experience and learn about the strange quantum world by playing games whose rules are based on quantum physics. We will play, for example, a quantum chess game where a King can be both alive and dead, just like Schrödinger’s cat. As humans, we are not built to easily grasp the quantum phenomena because we don’t interact with it on a daily basis. When you shoot a basketball, however, you intuitively know how the ball will move without knowing anything about the theory of gravity as you interact with gravity all the time. Quantum games that we will play in this course will provide an immersive environment where students can experience the quantum world in a tangible way and develop intuitive understanding of quantum physics without relying on mathematics. By the end of the course, you may find the strange quantum world not so strange after all. There is no prerequisite for this mini-course. Just bring your curiosity for the quantum world and your love for playing games!

Instructor: Myung-Joong Hwang


The Urban Village: Chengzhongcui (城中村) and Urbanization with Chinese Characteristics

Over the last three decades, China’s rapid urbanization has been facilitated by the unprecedented mobility of rural migrant populations. This mass human migration has unveiled the fluidity and dynamism of China’s rural and urban divide, as rural migrants form small communities and create what is now known as urban villages in the cities. Nowadays, urban villages exist in all Chinese cities and are an organic part of the urban system. They are key sites in examining the intersection between capital flow and the urban-rural dynamics in China. They take on forms of workers’ dorms in factories, rental apartment condos for migrants, old city districts, temporary construction sites, and the pre-existing natural villages-turned new urban districts, etc. In the case of Kunshan City, we witness the growth of the Foxconn workers’ new village (富士康新村)and Ba Cheng (巴城) as the vivid local examples for this particular urbanization with the Chinese characteristics in the transition from socialism to the market economy. By taking this course, students will: 1) learn the overall development of urbanization and capital/labor flows in China from the interdisciplinary perspective of history, anthropology and human geography; 2) develop the analytic and communicative skills in the areas of historical and ethnographical interpretations (such as interviews); 3) further sharpen their skills through the possibility of a hands-on field trip in Kunshan or in Shanghai to apply what they learn to the field work and a research report.

Instructor: Qian Zhu


Where You Live Matters When It Comes to Obesity

Health Disparities Through the Geospatial Lens: The new global pandemic, obesity, has significantly increased the risks of death, morbidity, and accelerated aging. Although obesity is simultaneously increase in almost all countries, there were significant geographical disparities across regions. So, why are people living in some places more likely to be overweight/obese than those in others? Was it because the neighborhoods they lived in were obesogenic? Was it because some places lacked health care facilities to treat and prevent obesity? When it comes to obesity, where we live, work and play matters. Health mapping, using Geographic information systems (GIS) technology to link the geographical characteristics with people’s health behaviors and outcomes together, is vital in health monitoring, planning, implementation, and evaluation. In this class, we will take a deep dive into the obesity pandemic, and use case studies that employ geospatial modeling and technologies to investigate the obesity-related health disparities from an ecological, geospatial perspective. The only pre-requisite of this class is your curiosity. Now, let’s start this virtual global tour to investigate the obesity pandemic!

Instructor: Meifang Chen


Visual Narratives in Global Health

Global Health is a field of health education that focuses on the reduction of health inequalities that exist within and across communities and societies. As such, global health education requires skills that extend beyond just a biomedical perspective, recognizing that disease disparities are largely driven by human factors that are not considered biological. It is important that students understand and recognize how the human experience contributes to individual and population health. One way in which students can gain this perspective is by studying global health topics through visual narratives. In this course, using the mediums of photography and videography, students will learn to extract and capture the human experience in ways that communicate deeper connections to health.

Instructors: Ben Anderson and Kaley Clements