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Renewed Attention to Social Sciences in China Leads to New Partnerships With American Universities [The Chronicle]

February 9, 2009

By Mara Hvistendahl, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Rising up from the eastern edge of Peking University’s campus, the sleek, U-shaped Leo KoGuan Building wraps around a red Qing-dynasty edifice. The result of a record-breaking donation from a Singaporean tycoon, this merger of old and new marks a departure from the drab socialist architecture so common in China.

But the building is more remarkable for what’s inside.

In lecture halls bathed in natural light, students take intensive one-month courses from leading academics from the United States — although not in disciplines where American colleges have an established presence in China, such as business and technology. Instead the students are taking courses in the social sciences.

The University of Michigan-Peking University Joint Institute, as the program is called, offers courses in relatively new subjects, such as religion and psycholinguistics, in an effort to turn out top Chinese sociologists, demographers, and other social scientists.

“There aren’t many professors who can teach these subjects in China,” says Wang Linlan, a graduate student who took feminist theory and data analysis at the institute, then applied the credits toward a sociology doctorate at Peking University. “This kind of opportunity is rare.” [Click here to read the full story. Subscription only.]

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