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China Bound, Revised: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC (1994)

Chapter: 1. Research, Study, and Teaching in China

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Suggested Citation:"1. Research, Study, and Teaching in China." National Academy of Sciences. 1994. China Bound, Revised: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2111.
×

1. Research, Study, and Teaching in China

Diverse opportunities exist for U.S. students, scholars, and teachers who want to live and work in China. Programs abound for undergraduates, recent college graduates with a strong sense of adventure and minimal training in the Chinese language, well-published senior scholars of Chinese history, field scientists with no previous experience in China, and established professors who want to spend a year teaching abroad. Locales open to foreigners wishing to study, teach, and conduct research are also diverse, from the sophisticated, increasingly Western-influenced cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou (Canton) to inland cities, the remote Tibetan Plateau, or a village in one of China's ethnic minority regions.

This chapter discusses relevant programs and offers advice for accompanying spouses or friends. Subsequent chapters explain how to prepare for life in China, how to set up there, what services are available, and even how to leave. Chapters on research, study, and teaching relate the experiences of others who have already been to China, offering advice on what to expect and how to reach your goals. Supplemental sources are noted throughout the book, and their citations may be found in References, Appendix M.

Below are suggestions for learning more about the programs available to Americans.

RESEARCH FELLOWSHIPS AND GRANTS

Research fellowships are available from U.S. sources for postdoctoral and established scholars in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities as well as for advanced graduate students in the social sciences and

Suggested Citation:"1. Research, Study, and Teaching in China." National Academy of Sciences. 1994. China Bound, Revised: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2111.
×

humanities. Fewer advanced graduate students in scientific disciplines conduct research in China, although several have done so. Chapter 4 examines the types of research being done in China today—archival, scientific, and fieldwork—and gives advice about arranging for and carrying out research projects.

SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES

The Committee on Scholarly Communication with China (CSCC), formerly the Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People's Republic of China (CSCPRC), has much experience placing American social scientists and humanists in China. Its competitive National Program for Advanced Study and Research in China is still the preferred route for many scholars. Because it operates an office in Beijing to facilitate the work of the people it funds, scholars in the program receive not only financial support but help in placement as well. Further information about the research program for scholars may be obtained from:

Committee on Scholarly Communication with China

1055 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW

Suite 2013

Washington, D.C. 20007

The Henry Luce Foundation sponsors a United States-China Cooperative Research Program "to encourage sustained joint research by American and Chinese scholars on significant topics in the humanities and social sciences that will lead to an improved understanding of China." Cooperative projects normally involve two or more collaborators on both the Chinese and American sides, working together over a three-year period. Further information about the research program for scholars may be obtained from:

U.S.-China Cooperative Research Program

The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc.

111 West 50th Street

Room 3710

New York, NY 10020

In addition, most organizations funding social scientists and humanists will provide grants for research in China if you are able to make your own arrangements for placement. These include the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Joint Committee on Chinese Studies, sponsored by the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council. For a full description of possible funding sources and their addresses, see Appendix A.

SCIENCES

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) continues to be a major source of funding for scientific research in China through

Suggested Citation:"1. Research, Study, and Teaching in China." National Academy of Sciences. 1994. China Bound, Revised: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2111.
×

its East Asia and Pacific Program and its diverse scientific programs, and it encourages collaborative research with Chinese scientists. The foundation encourages prospective applicants to contact program officers of the Division of International Programs directly at 703-306-1704. For application forms, contact the Forms and Publications unit at:

National Science Foundation

4201 Wilson Blvd.

Arlington, VA 22230

Internet: pubs@nsf.gov

Telephone: 703-306-1130

The National Geographic Society, Earthwatch, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Smithsonian Institution are other sources of research funding. A description of their programs and list of their addresses and telephone numbers appear in Appendix A. More than 30 governmental institutions in the United States have signed protocols with counterpart Chinese institutions, and a few of them also provide funding for non-government employees. Some applied scientists have received funding from private corporations with practical research interests in China.

DISSERTATION RESEARCH

There are several routes for students wishing to pursue dissertation research in the social sciences and humanities. Support for such research is offered by the graduate component of the National Program for Advanced Study and Research in China administered by the Committee on Scholarly Communication with China. Some universities and foundations also provide graduate student fellowships for research in China.

Few students in the natural sciences, however, have undertaken research in China, and most scientists interviewed for this book discourage such attempts unless you or your adviser have good contacts. Otherwise, the difficulties of starting out in China make this research too risky.

Finally, some students conduct dissertation-level research in China while attending language programs.

STUDY

Most Americans in China with academic interests are students, and most of them are studying the Chinese language. The number of Chinese-language programs organized by U.S. universities has proliferated in recent years. Programs are also offered directly by some Chinese universities and by at least one joint U.S.-China training center. The types of options available are discussed below.

Suggested Citation:"1. Research, Study, and Teaching in China." National Academy of Sciences. 1994. China Bound, Revised: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2111.
×
U.S. UNIVERSITY-SPONSORED PROGRAMS

There is a range of summer, semester, or year-long programs organized by U.S. universities and conducted on Chinese university campuses with courses taught by Chinese faculty and supervised by U.S. faculty. Some of these programs are limited to students and faculty at the signatory school, but the programs are often flexible. Study-abroad offices at most universities maintain files and brochures on such programs. Appendix B lists many of them.

The Council on International Educational Exchange and China Educational Tours also sponsor several programs, some of which are for beginning students of Chinese and include field trips and courses in Chinese culture and history conducted in English. These organizations can be contacted at the following addresses:

Council on International Educational Exchange

205 East 42nd Street

New York, NY 10017

China Educational Tours

1110 Washington Street

Boston, MA 02124

APPLYING TO CHINESE UNIVERSITIES

Foreign students may apply directly to selected Chinese schools for study in a range of disciplines, including the Chinese language. Appendix C provides a list of colleges and universities that accept direct applications from foreign students.

The NAFSA Association of International Educators has recently published Post-secondary Institutions of the People's Republic of China: A Complete Guide to Institutions of Higher Education in China, which includes profiles of more than 1,200 Chinese post-secondary educational institutions. A full citation is provided in Appendix M. To order, contact:

NAFSA Association of International Educators

1875 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 1000

Washington, D.C. 20009

Telephone: 202-462-4811

HOPKINS-NANJING CENTER

Chinese and international students live together as roommates at the Johns Hopkins-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies. Chinese students study about the United States with American professors, and Americans learn about China from Chinese professors. Course work for Americans is in Chinese, and three years of language training is recommended for admission. The program is designed to provide an introduction to mod-

Suggested Citation:"1. Research, Study, and Teaching in China." National Academy of Sciences. 1994. China Bound, Revised: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2111.
×

ern Chinese history and contemporary affairs. It is directed at people pursuing careers in government, communications, and nonprofit organizations, as well as graduate students pursuing an M.A. in modern Chinese history, politics, or economics. The address is:

Hopkins-Nanjing Program

School of Advanced International Studies

The Johns Hopkins University

1619 Massachusetts Ave., NW

Washington, D.C. 20036

Chapter 6 is devoted to a discussion of the student experience in China.

TEACHING

American teachers in China are almost as numerous as students. Most teach English, and opportunities have multiplied since 1979 and are available almost everywhere in China. In addition, China recruits U.S. faculty to teach in many areas important to economic development, such as science and technology, finance, banking, business management, law, and computer science. There are several ways to teach in China.

U.S.-SPONSORED PROGRAMS

The best-organized and best-funded program is the United States Information Agency's (USIA) Fulbright program, which recruits American Ph.D.s with at least five years of university-level teaching experience to teach American literature, economics, law, history, American studies, international relations and American politics, journalism, art history, and music at the graduate level at universities and other postsecondary institutions in China. For information on Fulbright lecturing programs, contact:

CIES

3400 International Drive, NW

Suite M-500

Washington, D.C. 20008

Telephone: 202-686-4023

The Peace Corps has also begun an English-language teaching program. The telephone book should list the number of the local Peace Corps office; the national office may be reached at 202-606-3886.

Beyond these programs, many American universities and exchange organizations have their own, which may be limited to their own students, faculty, alumni, members, or other participants. A list of some is included in Appendix H.

Suggested Citation:"1. Research, Study, and Teaching in China." National Academy of Sciences. 1994. China Bound, Revised: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2111.
×
CHINESE-SPONSORED OPPORTUNITIES

Chinese academic institutions also hire teachers directly, most of whom teach English (both literature and English as a Second Language). Many Americans are also hired to teach in other areas important to China's economic development. The Chinese make a distinction between teaching as a "foreign expert" and teaching as a "foreign teacher." It is important to understand these distinctions before applying.

Foreign Experts

Foreign experts are expected to hold at least an M.A. degree, but most have Ph.D.s and hold a faculty position. The number of these positions available is determined by China's State Council, which provides funding for the positions. Payment includes both salary and benefits.

Almost all foreign experts are recruited from their home countries. It is difficult to be designated a foreign expert after arrival. Recruitment is usually done directly by the Chinese institution requesting the foreign expert. Salaries are determined by the applicant's professional credentials, experience, and record, and generally range from Y900 to Y2,500 a month. Well-known scholars, professors, and individuals with special skills may receive more. Housing and one-way international airfare are provided (round-trip airfare can often be negotiated), and stipends for travel within China are available. Salaries are paid in renminbi, the local currency, once a month (see p. 142 for a discussion of Chinese currency). If family (spouse and children under 12) accompany you to China, you are permitted to convert 30 percent of your salary into foreign currency. If you do not bring any family members, you may convert 50 percent of your salary.

Chinese institutions with staff familiar with your work and qualifications will be most likely to invite you as a foreign expert. University-to-university linkages provide a good avenue for such opportunities. Alternatively, you can initiate communication directly with a Chinese institution of higher education (see Appendix C) or with the Chinese Education Association for International Exchanges, at 37 Damucang Hutong, in Beijing.

In order to consider your request, an institution will require a copy of your curriculum vitae, including education, professional experience, and publications, as well as letters of recommendation and a health certificate.

Foreign Teachers

The guidelines for recruiting foreign teachers are flexible, but a B.A. is normally required. Most foreign teachers teach English, and most Chinese institutions prefer individuals with some experience teaching English as a Second Language. Given the current demand for English language teachers in China, however, and the wide

Suggested Citation:"1. Research, Study, and Teaching in China." National Academy of Sciences. 1994. China Bound, Revised: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2111.
×

range of courses language teachers are asked to teach, many institutions are hiring recent college graduates with no previous teaching experience. Foreign teachers are ordinarily recruited directly by Chinese schools or by local provincial or municipal departments or bureaus of education rather than through higher level administrative organizations. The positions are funded by the hiring institution. Often, the institution does not pay for international airfare to China. It is possible to find work as a foreign teacher after arriving in China. Salaries are usually lower than those of foreign experts, ranging from Y600-1,000 a month. The terms and arrangements are diverse but usually include free housing as well. Rules governing payment and benefits for foreign teachers are important, and people contemplating these programs should examine the sample contract for teachers in Appendix J. If you have been invited to teach in China, be sure to request a contract from your host institution that specifies details of your salary, housing, medical care, vacation time, excess baggage allowance, classroom teaching and office hours, and other requirements.

Individuals wanting to serve as foreign teachers in China may apply to one of the American agencies listed in Appendix H, or directly to the relevant college or university.

SPOUSES

Several opportunities are available for employment, particularly in English-language teaching, for accompanying spouses and friends, for whom the same advice applies as cited earlier in this chapter. If application is made through the Foreign Experts Bureau before leaving the United States, inquiries may also be made concerning the availability of work such as training young interpreters, doing editing or proofreading at the Foreign Languages Press, or writing articles for the Xinhua (New China) News Agency, Beijing Review, China Reconstructs, and other English-language publications produced in China.

Many spouses find positions as teachers after arriving in China. Colleges and universities often have positions available, and it is possible to apply directly to them. Other options include teaching language courses to Chinese employees of joint-venture hotels in larger cities, teaching at international schools, or working with foreign firms or international organizations operating in China. If a skill is of use to China's modernization program, such as a knowledge of computers, business, or the stock market, it is likely that, with a little effort, a position may be found. The groundwork should be laid before arrival in China.

Suggested Citation:"1. Research, Study, and Teaching in China." National Academy of Sciences. 1994. China Bound, Revised: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2111.
×
Page 1
Suggested Citation:"1. Research, Study, and Teaching in China." National Academy of Sciences. 1994. China Bound, Revised: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2111.
×
Page 2
Suggested Citation:"1. Research, Study, and Teaching in China." National Academy of Sciences. 1994. China Bound, Revised: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2111.
×
Page 3
Suggested Citation:"1. Research, Study, and Teaching in China." National Academy of Sciences. 1994. China Bound, Revised: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2111.
×
Page 4
Suggested Citation:"1. Research, Study, and Teaching in China." National Academy of Sciences. 1994. China Bound, Revised: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2111.
×
Page 5
Suggested Citation:"1. Research, Study, and Teaching in China." National Academy of Sciences. 1994. China Bound, Revised: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2111.
×
Page 6
Suggested Citation:"1. Research, Study, and Teaching in China." National Academy of Sciences. 1994. China Bound, Revised: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/2111.
×
Page 7
Next: 2. Preparing for the Trip »
China Bound, Revised: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC Get This Book
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Being prepared in China, says one researcher, can mean "the difference between a headache and a productive day." Acclaimed by readers, this friendly and practical volume--now updated with important new information--offers all the details academic visitors need to make long-term stays in China productive, comfortable, and fun.

Academic opportunities have been revived in the years since the Tiananmen Square event, and the book opens with an overview of what we have learned from our academic exchanges with China, the opportunities now available, and resources for more information.

To help visitors prepare for daily life, the book covers everything from how to obtain the correct travel documents to what kinds of snack foods are available in China, from securing accommodations to having the proper gift for your Chinese dinner host.

Frank discussions on the research and academic environments in China will help students, investigators, and teachers from their initial assignment to a danwei, or work unit, to leaving the country with research materials intact. The book offers practical guidelines on working with Chinese academic institutions and research assistants, arranging work-related travel, managing working relationships, resolving language issues, and--perhaps most important--understanding Chinese attitudes and customs toward study, research, and work life.

New material in this edition includes an expanded section on science and social science field work, with a discussion of computers: which ones work best in China, how to arrange to bring your computer in, where to find parts and supplies, how to obtain repairs, and more. Living costs, health issues, and addresses and fax numbers for important services are updated. Guidance is offered on currency, transportation, communications, bringing children into China, and other issues.

Based on the first-hand reports of hundreds of academic visitors to China and original research by the authors, this book will be useful to anyone planning to live and work in China: students, researchers, and teachers and their visiting family members, as well as business professionals.

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