China and Japan: Traditional and Contemporary "Silk Roads"

Fall 2018
Winter 2019
Spring 2019
OlympiaStudy Abroad
Olympia +
study abroad option
Class Size: 50
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

visual arts, Chinese studies, human development
Tomoko Hirai Ulmer
Japanese language and culture

This program will introduce the history, culture, and philosophy of China and Japan. We will use the theme of the Silk Road in our examination of China as the heart of Asian civilization and Japan as a constant presence at the eastern end of the route. Our inquiry into Chinese and Japanese history will focus on periods in which foreign contacts were most influential, for example, when Buddhism traveled the Silk Road to reach Japan, and when Europeans reached and interacted with Asia via the sea and land routes. We will examine contemporary “Silk Roads” that incorporate new trends, technologies, and aspirations. The program also covers Asian philosophies, including Daoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Shintoism and their distinct time/space concepts. We will examine Chinese and Japanese ideographic languages and their embedded worldviews and aesthetic sensitivities as expressed in poetry and other artistic forms.

In fall quarter we will study Chinese and Japanese history up to the 12th to 13th century, in addition to Daoist philosophy, Buddhism, and Japanese aesthetics from the early to medieval period.

In winter, our history studies will move toward the modern period. Our cultural studies will examine spiritual, religious, and aesthetic traditions in depth. Students will take part in a three-day Lunar New Year celebration in early February. There will be an optional three-week study abroad trip to both China and Japan starting in Week 9 and extending into spring break. Four additional credits may be earned from this trip. Students who do not participate in the trip will remain in close contact with those on the trip and continue their research. All students register for 8 credits during winter and will re-register for 12 credits once the study abroad deposit is submitted. Speak with the faculty for additional details.  

During spring quarter our history study will cover the contemporary period. Students will continue the research started in winter quarter and complete a project connecting theory and practice. Credits will be given in Chinese and Japanese history and culture and in the area of the student’s research.

Program assignments include a weekly response paper or collage, an art journal, quarterly or bi-quarterly research presentations, and a quarterly integration paper. Students will post their responses and comment on each other’s work via Canvas throughout the week. Each class period typically starts with Tai Ji, a physical activity that embodies ancient Chinese spiritual traditions. Other program activities include field trips to the Chinese and Japanese gardens in Portland, Ore., a museum visit, calligraphy demonstrations and workshops, and studying Chinese tea culture and the Japanese tea ceremony.

Students are encouraged to take a Japanese or Chinese language course for 4 credits in addition to this program.

Study abroad:

1.            Special Expenses: $1950  (Estimated expenses students will cover themselves including airfare, visa fees, and misc food and transportation costs)

2.            Required Student Fee:  $2050   (Fee covers group expenses for services organized by college including housing, academic, and activity costs)

3.            Administrative Fee:   $400  (Nonrefundable deposit to cover administrative costs of running study abroad)

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

Chinese and Japanese studies, Cultural studies, Silk Roads studies, arts, education, history


Credits per quarter

Online learning:
  • Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers 25 - 49% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.

$25 fall and spring, $10 in winter for entrance fees and art supplies.

Class Standing: Freshman–Senior
Class Size: 50

Scheduled for: Weekend

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Saturday, April 6, 2019 - 9:00 am
SEM 2 B1105 - Lecture

Advertised schedule:

Saturdays, 9am - 4:50pm + a three day Lunar New Year Tai Ji seminar in Winter quarter, 2019

Located in: Olympia

2018-11-30Required fee for study abroad updated to $2050 (was $2043)
2018-09-06Costs for study abroad updated