China: Language, Cultures, and Ethnic Minorities


The interdisciplinary coursework in the China: Language, Cultures, and Ethnic Minorities program informs students on all aspects of life in China, including the environmental, health, and political spheres. Seminars conducted in both English and in translation include lectures by Chinese academics, researchers, development workers, and experts in the fields of history and religion, social issues, arts and the humanities, and minority issues. During the final month of the semester, students leverage their field study experience and research skills to complete their ISP.

The following course descriptions can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Learn more about credit transfer.

Chinese Culture and Ethnic Minorities Seminar - syllabus (PDF)
(ASIA 3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
An interdisciplinary course conducted in English, with required readings, examining China’s cultural complexity and the key social, historical, and cultural factors shaping and sustaining China’s minority communities. Lecturers are drawn from institutions such as Yunnan Nationalities University, Yunnan Arts Institute, Yunnan Traditional Medicine Hospital, and the Lijiang Dongba Cultural Research Institute.

Field Methods and Ethics - syllabus (PDF)
(ANTH 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
A course in the concepts of learning across cultures and from field experience. Introduction to the Independent Study Project. Material includes cross-cultural adaptation and skills building; project selection and refinement; appropriate methodologies; field study ethics and the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy; developing contacts and finding resources; developing skills in observation and interviewing; gathering, organizing, and communicating data; and maintaining a work journal.

Intensive Language Study: Beginning Chinese - syllabus (PDF)
(CHIN 1000–1500 / 6 credits / 90 class hours)
Intensive Language Study: Intermediate Chinese - syllabus (PDF)
(CHIN 2000–2500 / 6 credits / 90 class hours)
Intensive Language Study: Advanced Chinese - syllabus (PDF)
(CHIN 3000–3500 / 6 credits / 90 class hours)
Emphasis on speaking and comprehension skills, as well as introductory reading skills, through classroom and field instruction. Based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing, students are placed in beginning, intermediate, or advanced classes. Language instructors are certified in teaching Chinese as a foreign language and use a variety of interactive communication-based language-teaching techniques.

Continued Language Study
Additional language study for credit is available during the Independent Study Project period in lieu of the traditional ISP.

Independent Study Project - syllabus (PDF)
(ISPR 3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
Conducted in Yunnan Province or in another approved location appropriate to the project. Sample topic areas: social customs of minority groups; evolution of the free-market system; philosophy and practice of taiji; investigation of family and religious practices of the Hui; Dongba shamans; textiles and handicrafts of the Naxi and the Miao; the structure of the extended family in the context of family planning; domestic tourism and its impact on Dali and Lijiang; the role of civil society in environmental management; preservation and renewal of Tibetan arts; healthcare challenges in China;  traditional Chinese painting, music, and medicine; Buddhist philosophy and practice.

Note: Students may pursue one month of additional language study in lieu of the Independent Study Project. Students who pursue this option spend the ISP period participating in intensive and often one-on-one language instruction.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Kunming

Language Study: Chinese

Prerequisites: None


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

Connect With Us

Connect icons

888.272.7881 (toll-free in US)



Mailing Address:
PO Box 676, 1 Kipling Road
Brattleboro, VT 05302 USA

Contact us by email.