2012-13 UChicago Beijing New Generation China Scholars Program Recap

UChicago in Beijing Scholar 2012 class
UChicago in Beijing Scholar 2012 class

During Dec. 2012-June 13 I was selected to be one of twelve PhD scholars selected from U.S. and Chinese graduate programs to conduct independent field research projects on public goods governance in China. We became the inaugural class of New Generation China Scholars hosted by the University of Chicago Center in Beijing. The fellowship not only brought additional funding and local affiliation which I am very much grateful for, it also introduced me to prestigious China scholars at the center (led by University of Chicago Prof. Dali Yang and Prof. William Parish pictured below) and some very smart young scholars in the field of China studies. Besides students from China and the U.S., we also had Mr. Tao Yu from Britain joining us as an observer.

UChicago faculty mentors

New Generation China Scholars Program Faculty Mentors

We had our week-long opening seminar in early December in Beijing. I still remember vividly that it was a cold day with lots of fog (maybe more likely smog)- one of the fellows, Xueshi Li from Michigan State University tried to take a photo from the conference room at the center (which is in a high-rise building next to Renmin University), and could not see the cars on the street through the smog!

During the orientation week we had some amazing site visits to the Ford Foundation (the grant provider), various Chinese government offices, academic and research institutions, and think tanks in Beijing. We delivered presentations on each of our fieldwork projects and received feedback from the two professors leading the program. We also enjoyed wonderful meals at several restaurants in Beijing thanks to generosity of the center.

field visit

Fellows’ Meeting during Orientation at UChicago Center in Beijing

We then went on our separate ways to our fieldwork sites, but still kept in touch with the center and with each other. From December until June, I conducted fieldwork in several provinces in China for my research on the environmental consequences of rare earth mining in China and state reregulation on the rare earth industry.

We then had our conclusive seminar in early June. Each of us presented on our fieldwork findings, and delivered our papers to the center.

presenting at the Uchicago Center in Beijing

presenting at the Uchicago Center in Beijing

Overall, I have found this to be an amazing fellowship program that combines field immersion, networking, research and mentorship together very nicely. This is a program that one should definitely consider applying to if planning to conduct fieldwork in China.

Thus as a former program fellow, I am forwarding this year’s CFP:
The 2014-15 New Generation China Scholars Program is now open for application. Please share the Call For Proposals with your fellow students and friends. As indicated in the CFP, the program is aimed at graduate students in the social sciences and social/public policy who are enrolled in PhD programs in leading universities in the U.S. and China and is hence limited to students based in the U.S. and Greater China (Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau, and Taiwan). The application deadline is September 15th and admission decisions will be notified around October 10th.

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