Understanding Chinese Culture

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Understanding Chinese Culture

INT 301.006

Spring 2016

CBS 306; TR 10:50-12:05

Instructor: Dr. Martin Qiang Zhao

Email: zhao_mq@mercer.edu

Phone: 301-2425

Office: CSB 201B

Office hours: Monday, and Wednesday through Friday 2:00-3:00
Course Overview: In the current catalog, this course is described as "Through an exploration of global issues, students will examine the interconnectedness of a global society, while learning to respect the diversity of international voices on contemporary issues. The role and impact of global citizenry will be examined through the works of writers, thinkers, artists, and scholars representing the four domains of natural science, social science, humanities, and the arts. Substantial attention will be given to the practical skills of written, verbal and visual communications. Individual sections may be subtitled to reflect a particular perspective."
Required Texts:

Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language, by Deborah Fallows

The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why, by Richard E. Nisbett

China in Ten Words, by Yu Hua

Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China by Peter Hessler
Course Objectives: At the completion of the course, the successful student will have a solid understanding of China and its culture from both historical and contemporary perspectives within a global context. Influential schools of thought that helped form China’s identity will be introduced, and societal and cultural changes in its recent past and present examined, based on studying classical works in traditional Chinese literature and reflections and discussions by writers from both China and the West.
Course Structure: The majority of the class time will be used to introduce background materials about Chinese culture. These materials include classical works in Chinese literature, as listed in the tentative schedule. Guest speakers from other CLA programs and Confucius Institute at Wesleyan College will be invited to cover mostly contemporary topics. Although these lectures will be given in English, a good number of Chinese characters and other symbols/artifacts will be introduced to give students deep insight to the respective phenomena.
To fulfil the need for oral communication, this course includes a student-led discussion component and a final presentation. Both are team-based in nature. Detailed instructions will be given in class.

A variety of experiential learning opportunities will be arranged for the students, which include in-class activities (such as practicing Chinese brush writing/painting and board game, and movie viewing); and out-of-class activities. Participating in a Chinese New Year celebratory event by local Chinese community or CI at Wesleyan, or a field trip to “Chinatown” in Atlanta or another venue will be arranged. Each student is required to participate at least of one them.

Assignments and Evaluation:

Journal/blog: All students are required to keep a journal with a minimum of 15 one-page entries (at least 8 should be completed by mid-term March 4) that integrate your thoughts with materials covered in lectures and related reading, and/or your experiences in field trip or in- or out-class activities. Journals will be graded on the quality of reflection and the integration of learning. Blogging equivalent will be announced during the class.
Participation: “To participate means not only being in attendance, but also providing thoughtful, and informed input as your part of the classroom discussion.” I am also looking for evidence that you are engaged in our course, completing the reading, and engaging in critical thought. Each day you will be given a participation grade based on class participation.
Discussion Leading: Students will be assigned in 2-person teams at the beginning of the class. Each pair is responsible for leading class discussions based on assigned sections from one of the required texts. Guidelines for discussions leaders will be given later in class. Students will be graded on the quality of the leading questions prepared or of dialog and their ability to use textual points underscore the rationale for the questions.
3 Responses are required throughout the semester for the books that we have read. Everyone must respond to Hessler. Written responses must be 5-7 pages long but students are allowed to propose alternative, creative responses (digital stories, 15 minute videos, etc) with the approval of the instructor.

Final Project: Teams each with 2-3 students will be formed after mid-term to work on a topic with the instructor’s approval. All teams are to present for 15-20 minutes during the final exam period designated to this class. Deliverables include a 10-12 page paper (or a creative endeavor such as a digital story, or another approved concept), in addition to the (PowerPoint) presentation.
Writing Style The response papers must be typed. You should use a standard sized (10-12 point) font and be aware that grammar, spelling and punctuation errors will be penalized. Late assignments will be penalized for every twenty-four hours they are late. Please be careful to spell correctly and use complete sentences. It never hurts to proofread your work. Your work will also be graded on overall quality, logic, and merit.
Plagiarism This is, of course, cheating by not giving credit for ideas not original to you. It can take the form of “copying,” not noting direct or paraphrased quotations, or even failing to provide an adequate works cited list. Be careful to cite sources any time you borrow an idea or use another’s work to make a point, even when it is the textbook from this class


Due Date




Mid-term &

Last day of class




Final Team Project

[Final exam period]


Practice & field trip






Discussion Leading



3 Responses

Due 1 week after a book is finished


each is worth 10%

Final Course Grades are assigned according to the following criteria:

A 90.0 - 100% Excellence in every facet, outstanding insight demonstrated

B+ 87.0 - 89.9% Very Good Work that demonstrates insight and analysis

B 80.0 - 86.9% Good Work that demonstrates insight and analysis

C+ 77.0 - 79.9% Good understanding of course material demonstrated

C 70.0 - 76.9% Satisfactory understanding demonstrated

D 60.0 - 69.9% Basic understanding is barely demonstrated

F 0 - 59.9% Work is too weak to receive credit

NOTE: Failure to turn in a paper assignment constitutes an F for the entire course

Cell phones in class:  Cell phones must be turned off and stowed out of sight (and contact) during class times. The reason is simple: they have a disastrous effect on learning. Their use in class is distracting, rude and addictive.  Therefore, any phone heard in class or observed being used for non-course purposes will be confiscated until the next class period.  By enrolling in this class you agree to these terms.
Electronic Submission of Assignments: In general assignments will not be accepted electronically. In cases where instructions specifically permit this, students bear sole responsibility for ensuring that papers or assignments submitted electronically to a professor are received in a timely manner and in the electronic format(s) specified by the professor. Students are therefore obliged to have their e-mail client issue a receipt verifying that the document has been received. In addition, you should retain a copy of the dated submission on a separate storage device. If for some reason your file does not arrive, your stored and dated copy can provide evidence that the assignment was completed on time. Otherwise, the assignment will be counted late and penalized accordingly.
Honor System: ALL WORK FOR THIS COURSE IS TO BE CARRIED OUT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE MERCER UNIVERSITY HONOR CODE. Plagiarism is defined as using someone else’s words or ideas without properly crediting them. Properly crediting includes citing the author(s) using a proper citation style (APA, Chicago, MLA). Note that professional writing requires learning to summarize the ideas of others in your own words. If you are uncertain at any point, see me.

Additional assistance: The following is Mercers policy regarding additional assistance: “Students requiring accommodations for a disability should inform the instructor at the close of the first class meeting or as soon as possible. The instructor will refer you to the ACCESS and Accommodation Office to document your disability, determine eligibility for accommodations under the ADAAA/Section 504 and to request a Faculty Accommodation Form. Disability accommodations or status will not be indicated on academic transcripts. In order to receive accommodations in a class, students with sensory, learning, psychological, physical or medical disabilities must provide their instructor with a Faculty Accommodation Form to sign. Students must return the signed form to the ACCESS Coordinator. A new form must be requested each semester. Students with a history of a disability, perceived as having a disability or with a current disability who do not wish to use academic accommodations are also strongly encouraged to register with the ACCESS and Accommodation Office and request a Faculty Accommodation Form each semester. For further information, please contact Carole Burrowbridge, Director and ADA/504 Coordinator, at 301-2778 or visit the ACCESS and Accommodation Office website at http://www.mercer.edu/disabilityservices
Tentative schedule: As detailed in a separate file in the course folder.

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