Students prepare for the Sustainable China trip

By Mina Seo

This winter break, students will travel to China for the annual Sustainable China trip.

Since the mid-2000s, Lawrence University has offered a study abroad program to China with an agenda called, “Integrating Culture, Conservation and Commerce.” Utilizing the resources of Lawrence’s current East Asian Studies and Environmental Studies programs. This program gives students a chance to experience foreign culture and engage in academic research on their particular interests. This year, Stephen Edward Scarff Professor of International Affairs and Associate Professor of Government Jason Brozek spearheaded the trip to China and help organize the general itinerary for this program.

The Sustainable China trip will take 18 days from Dec. 1 to Dec. 18. Students joining this program will visit five cities in total: Shanghai, Wuxi, Guiyang, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Participants in the program engage in a variety of majors other than Chinese, Economics and Government. Any students who are interested in environmental studies, language, history, anthropology, politics or even science can participate in this study abroad program, as this trip will be a “rich, busy trip” but a “very rewarding one” as Brozek briefly hinted.

“The purpose of this trip is to explore the concept of sustainability,” said Brozek. “Which we think of as environmental conservation, economic development and cultural heritage to explore that concept of sustainability through the lens of historical, contemporary China,” he said.

Brozek associates the Sustainable China trip with a notion of the “extended classroom.” He explains, “The idea of the trip is to go to China at the end of a term and continue to explore all of the things we have been learning in the class. For example, this trip provides students with an opportunity to think about how natural resources are related to economic development and how Chinese culture is connected to conservation—to extend our work in the class to the country of China.”

“I’ve never been outside of the United States,” said sophomore Chelsea Gosney, who is currently taking Chinese 101 and the Sustainable China class in preparation for the trip. “So this trip to me is about allowing me to diversify my knowledge of the world and actually get to experience another country after studying it all term,” said Gosney. After attending the information session for the trip suggested by her biology professor, she applied for this program last year and took the chance to join this trip in her sophomore year.

Like Chelsea, most of the participants start applying for this program in their freshman year. Those who have applied for this program are also required to attend a Chinese language class and Sustainable China class.

Another student who previously studied abroad in Beijing, sophomore, Meghan Murphy, also shared her expectations for the Sustainable China Program. “I heard about the Sustainable China trip by chance. I overheard someone talking about the program and asked how I could learn more. I was also intrigued by the interdisciplinary nature of the program. To me, it is exciting to have the opportunity to look at China on the broad level of sustainability but through many disciplines,” Murphy said. She also took the Sustainable China class, which delves into sustainability in China, before leaving for trip. On this class, she commented, “In our class we have been exploring many examples of sustainability or lack of sustainability in China, and I can’t wait to go see what we have been talking about.”

The first major trip to Hong Kong in December 2009 has since expanded into several types of trips. Each of the trips over the past years have had different themes but also have interdisciplinary features that bring all the distinct subjects such as science, humanities and social sciences into one. Lawrence University has been able to successfully launch most of the recent trips to China with the funding from the New York City-based Henry Luce Foundation.