China-related Courses at Harvard, Spring 2024 Semester

Course Pre-Registration Deadline is November 15th.

Harvard offers a wide range of courses on China and Chinese Studies from across the arts, humanities, social sciences, and professional schools. Check out our guide to courses for undergraduate and graduate students for the Spring 2024 semester. (See graduate-level courses below.)

Language Courses

Harvard offers language courses at all levels in ChaghatayMandarin ChineseManchuMongolian, and Uyghur through the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations. Classical Tibetan and Colloquial Tibetan are offered through the Department of South Asian Studies. Other languages like Taiwanese/Southern Min are offered subject to petition and instructor availability.

For current details, check the Harvard Course Catalog:

Spring 2024: For Undergraduates and Graduate Students

Course ID Course Title Course Description 
ANTHRO 2855 Deep China: The Moral Life of the Person: What Anthropology and Psychiatry Tell Us About China Today  

Arthur Kleinman 
What do accounts of depression, suicide, substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, SARS, HIV/AIDS, starvation and the personal and family trauma of political violence teach us about China and the Chinese over the last few decades? 
CHNSE 163Business Chinese

Jing Cai
Designed for students interested in international business, employment or internships in Chinese-speaking communities (China, Taiwan, Singapore), or for students who simply want to improve their Chinese proficiency with a focus on authentic social and professional interactions. Students will develop their professional communication skills (both spoken and written), as well as gaining a broad business vocabulary. No specific background in business or economics is required.
CHNSLIT 235 Theater and Theatricality in Early Modern China  

Thomas Kelly 
This seminar charts the development of Chinese dramatic literature from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries. We will focus on the close reading of major works in the zaju, xiwen, and chuanqi forms, examining how the theater shaped new practices of writing and reading. 
EASTD 98K  Economic Governance in Asia  

Daniel Koss 
A junior tutorial focusing on four decades of “miraculous” growth in Japan and the Asian Tiger economies (South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore) and China.  
EASTD 170 Medicine and the Self in China and in the West  

Shigehisa Kuriyama 
Comparative historical exploration of the striking differences and unexpected similarities between traditional conceptions of the body in East Asian and European medicine; the evolution of beliefs within medical traditions; the relationship between traditional medicine and contemporary experience. 
EASTD 196 Political Geography of China  

Daniel Koss  
Putting Chinese politics on the map, this course asks how the government deals with the enormous challenges of ruling over a vast terrain with a diverse population, encompassing super-rich urban metropolises as well as poor rural peripheries 
FYSEMR 71DZen and the Art of Living: Making the Ordinary Extraordinary

James Robson
This seminar explores the rich history, philosophy and practices of Zen Buddhism as it developed in China, Korea, and Japan. We will first consider the emergence of the Zen tradition out of the Buddhist tradition and then explore the full range of its most distinctive features (Zen monastic meditation), cultural practices (painting, calligraphy, and poetry), and radical—even iconoclastic—innovations (such as the use of kōans, which are seemingly nonsensical sayings that defy rationality). We will also critically evaluate some less well-known facets of the Zen tradition, such as gender issues, the veneration of mummified masters, and the question of how Zen was implicated in modern nationalistic movements in Japan during World War II. During the mid-20th century, Zen became a global phenomenon as Zen masters began to move around the world and introduce the practice of Zen meditation to those in search of religious alternatives to Western organized religions, rationalism, and materialism. Zen attracted the attention of writers, musicians, artists, and athletes.  Why did Zen develop such a trans-cultural appeal at that moment in history? Why are there so many books with the title: “Zen and the Art of…..”? Why do so many computer and tech companies have Zen in their names? How has Zen meditation fed into the current “meditation/mindfulness” boom?  These are some of the questions we will explore in this seminar through readings, film screenings, museum viewings, and a visit to a Zen meditation center.
GENED 1119 Law, Politics, and Trade Policy: Lessons from East Asia  

Christina Davis 
This course examines the transformative role of trade policy for Japan, Korea, and China. From the “unequal treaties” of the nineteenth century to the World Trade Organization today, trade law binds the interactions between East Asia and the world.  
GENED 1068 The United States and China  

William Kirby 
This University-wide course invites undergraduates and graduate students to examine together the present and future of U.S.-China relations in the light of their past. What are the enduring patterns and issues in China’s relations with the United States? How have these two countries perceived each other over time? 
GOV 94BDFighting Poverty

Nara Dillon
What is poverty? What causes poverty, and how can it be eliminated? This seminar focuses on the big questions of how poverty varies around the world, as well as how and why different approaches to fighting poverty have been tried. These approaches include economic development, welfare programs, disaster relief, and anti-poverty campaigns. Case studies include China, India, Mexico, and the United States, among others. Students will write research papers on a topic and region of their choice.
GOV 1982Chinese Foreign Policy, 1949-2017

Alastair Johnston
Introduction to the descriptive history of China’s international relations with special focus on different theoretical explanations for changes in foreign policy behavior (e.g. polarity, history, ideology, leadership, bureaucracy, among others).
GOV 94IASino-US Relations in an Era of Rising Chinese Power

Alastair Johnston
Focuses on the theoretically informed explanations for changing levels of conflict and cooperation in US-China relations. Examines the role of history, ideology, power, economics, and ethnicity/identity. Main assignment is an original research paper that tests alternative explanations for some puzzle in US-China relations.
 GOV 94YW Comparative Political Development  

Yuhua Wang 
This course examines the historical development of different political institutions in the world, including China and the Middle East.  
GOV 2285 Political Science and China  

Elizabeth Perry  
This graduate seminar gives students control over the secondary literature on Chinese politics, with special attention to competing theoretical and methodological approaches. Available for cross registration, requires background in contemporary Chinese history and politics.  
HIST 1602 Modern China: 1894-Present  

Arunabh Ghosh 
This lecture course will provide a survey of some of the major issues in the history of post-imperial China (1912- ). Beginning with the decline of the Qing and the dramatic collapse of China’s imperial system in 1911, the course shall examine how China has sought to redefine itself anew over the past one-hundred years.  
HIST 89J The United States and China: Opium War to the Present  

Erez Manela  
This research seminar will focus on the history of Sino-American relations and interactions since the Opium War (1840s). It will examine major episodes such as the Boxer intervention, the first and second world wars, the Korea and Vietnam wars, the Mao-Nixon rapprochement, and the post-Mao transformations, and explore central themes such as immigration, trade, culture, diplomacy, and security. 
IGA 413MThe Energy Climate Transition

Judy Chang
This module will look at the challenges and opportunities associated with options to transition economies toward relying on low and zero-carbon energy sources to mitigate global climate change. The module will focus on the changes going through in electricity , buildings, and transportation systems in the context of the United States and China. Students will be asked to develop recommendations on what should be done between 2023 and 2032 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Paris targets.
RELIGION 1599 Asian American Religion  

Diana Eck  
How “Asian” is America today? This seminar explores the Asian dimensions of American history, immigration, religion, and culture as immigrants have come from India, China, Southeast Asia, Korea, and Japan. 
SOCIOL1141 Contemporary Chinese Society  

Ya-Wen Lei  
This course will equip you with the basic literacy required to comprehend contemporary Chinese society, which is an increasingly essential skill for informed citizens in our present global context. 
TDM 168K Contemporary Mixed Media Theater Production in Asia   This course examines contemporary Asian theater, which has emerged in recent years as a source of influence and inspiration in the global culture industry. Specifically, mixed media productions in Asia have created a provocative performance and compositional space through which to link cultural experiences of the past with the artistic vision and expression of contemporary creative practitioners.  

Spring 2024: For Graduate Students

SchoolCourse IDCourse TitleCourse Description
GSDHIS 4344Chinese Modern Architecture and Urbanism  

Peter Rowe  
Modern architecture and urbanism has developed in fits and starts, before coming on strongly during the past decades in most regions of China.  Therefore, rather than attempting to provide a continuous cohesive narrative, this course will concentrate on specific episodes of modern architecture and urban development.
GSDSTU 1329Designing the In-Between; Transecting the Heart of Chinatown on a Forgotten Site

  Kevin Sullivan
A curious “missing tooth” in the chaotic and dense urban fabric of Boston’s Chinatown reveals a vivisection of the neighborhood and provides an opportunity for a resilient urban intervention exploring the concept of Embedded Nature in a place devoid of nature and lacking a true center. Can the spatial implications of the In-Between coupled with the performative aspects of nature reestablish the interrelationship between architecture, life, and culture in Chinatown through innovative built form?
GSDSTU 1318Ruinophilia & Pentimenti – Chinatown Milan Case Study  

Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu  
Arguably, the conception of ruins has long shaped western architecture historians’ origins narrative dating back to antiquity. Largely shaped by a distinct visual culture and optics of the “ruin gaze”, the ruin has largely been associated with romantic imagery possessing its own metaphysical charm. This studio takes the notion of ruinophilia as a starting point for generating design interventions in Milan’s old Sarpi district, otherwise known as Quatiere Cinese.
HBSHBSMBA 1513Unpacking the US-China Rivalry  

Andy Zelleke  
The US-China bilateral relationship is in its worst shape since the two nations normalized diplomatic relations in 1979. The deterioration in Sino-American relations, and the intensely competitive rivalry that has developed, have important implications for the rest of the world, including the business sector.
HKSIGA 260Asia in the World – Regional Security, Integration and Ideology  

Rana Mitter
What are the factors that hold Asia together, or run the risk of pulling it apart?  This course examines contemporary Asia, one of the most politically and economically dynamic regions of the world, exploring how far it can be seen as one region and how complex the forces within it are. 
HKSDPI 450The Political Economy of Transition in China  

Anthony Saich  
China’s incremental reforms have been compared favorably as a transition strategy with the “shock therapy” attempted in Eastern Europe and Russia. Reality is more complex, progress is mixed, and the country is now facing major challenges from delayed reforms, especially in the industrial and financial sectors.
HLSHLS 2461Comparative Law: Why Law? The Experience of China

William Alford
This course uses the example of China as a springboard for asking fundamental questions about the nature of law, and the ways in which it may (or may not) differ in different societies. Historically, China is said to have developed one of the world’s great civilizations while according law a far less prominent role than in virtually any other. This course will test that assertion by commencing with an examination of classic Chinese thinking about the role of law in a well-ordered society and a consideration of the nature of legal institutions, formal and informal, in pre-20th century China-all in a richly comparative setting. It will then examine the history of Sino-Western interaction through law, intriguing and important both in itself and for the broader inquiry into which it opens concerning the transmission of ideas of law cross culturally.
HLSHLS 2958International Law of the Sea

This course explores the international law of the sea, a body of public international law that governs the rights and duties of states in their use of the oceans and seas. The law of the sea is a prominent feature of international politics, evident in disputes ranging from the South China Sea to the Arctic Ocean and the Black Sea, as well as international environmental law, biodiversity, and climate change.
HLS HLS 3137China and the International Legal Order

Mark Wu
In the Xi era, China has started to cast aside the long-standing maxim of keeping a low profile and biding one time in international affairs. What does China’s rise portend for the international legal order? In what ways is China seeking to reshape global norms versus upholding a status quo order exhibiting increasing fragility? This seminar examines this question for various domains of international law, including climate change, economics, sovereignty, human rights, and development. It will consider the ways in which history, geostrategic competition, as well as domestic economic and political interests impact these questions.
HLSHLS 3267The Legal Environment for Business in Africa

This course introduces students to the institutional, cultural, and social factors that create the structure for business law and its application in Africa, including its human rights dimensions. Both regarding direct cross-border trade and more complex international commercial transactions, certain commonly shared factors across the region influence the effectiveness of legal instruments that shape the business environment on the continent. These factors include statutory restrictions on the movement of people, capital, goods, services, and other factors of production. Even more far-reaching in its impact is the historic and continued significance of informal cross-border trade. Other considerations include the legal dimensions of China-Africa cooperation on infrastructure development, and the capacity of regional institutions to operationalise the emergent African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in a context of digitization and rapidly emerging new technologies. Students will study the plural legal environment in which business is conducted in Africa, while exploring the ways in which the business environment influences the law and vice versa.