Posted by: Jason | November 30, 2011

Prerequisites

For the most part, we’re in Hong Kong safe and sound. Two students had postponed flights, but assuming everything worked out overnight, we should be seeing them this morning or later today.

I mentioned in the last post that we asked this group of students to do quite a big more preparation than the group from 2009. We asked them to enroll in two courses – (1) Water, Politics and Economic Development with two professors from the Economics, Government and Environmental Studies departments and (2) Destination China with two professors from the Chinese, East Asia Studies and History departments. Before diving into the trip itself, I wanted to give a little more background on these classes –

The goal of the Water, Politics, and Economic Development course was to give students a background in the political, economic and environmental issues surrounding water management and allocation in China. As we explained on the syllabus –

“This course focuses on the political economy of water in the developing world, with a focus on China as the primary case study. We will explore the complex interactions among water use, politics, and economic development, as well as the quality and distribution of water among a country’s stakeholders. In addition, we will investigate the governance structures employed for decision-making, including the tradeoffs between resource use and conservation.”

Destination China, the other required course for the students on the trip, gave students a background in Chinese history and culture. The course included discussions of films and two books – Border Town by Congwen Shen and Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China by Leslie Chang.

As part of their work in Water, Politics and Economic Development, students were also required to complete a comparative case study of a water management issue. The goal was to have students explore a contemporary case study from outside China (the Tennessee Valley Authority, for example, or India’s Tehri Dam project) and apply the lessons of that case to a similar Chinese case. They’ll be presenting their research throughout the trip, starting with some presentations at Hong Kong Polytechnic University this evening.

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