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Updated 10:00 AM September 21, 2007




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Political, cultural changes in China topic of talk

Over a dinner of spaghetti and salad on a recent evening in the Couzens Hall cafeteria, four students from the Michigan Community Scholars Program discussed the impact of China's booming economy on the world.
Chenli Zhu listens during a discussion in Couzens Hall about China and its rise as a world power. (Photo courtesy LSA)

Professor James Crowfoot led them through a discussion of James Kynge's new book "China Shakes the World," examining the dramatic rise of China as a world power. The first-year students read the book as part of a new summer reading program sponsored by LSA.

The program is part of the 2007-08 LSA Theme Year, "ChinaNow: A Contemporary Exploration." It combines the resources of the internationally recognized Center for Chinese Studies, the University Musical Society and other scholarly communities to explore China through courses, lectures, a film festival and a concert series, which includes a performance by acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Kynge, an award-winning journalist who has covered events in the last 20 years that have shaped the Asian landscape, including the emergence of China's economic power, will talk about his book at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Power Center. He will discuss the environmental, political and cultural changes in China and the challenges the country is facing. The lecture is free and open to the public.
U-M freshman Glen Mitas (left) discusses the book 'China Shakes the World' with students Kah Wee Liew and Mo Bai. (Photo courtesy LSA)

"I liked the book," said Glen Mitas, a freshman who plans to attend the lecture. "I didn't know anything about China before I read it. I learned about the economics there, which is what I am interested in."

Mo Bai, a freshman who was born in China and moved to Payson, Ariz., when he was 8 years old, said the book helped him understand what happened in China after he was born. Bai said the theme year concept will help him examine China in several ways. "I like the idea of reading the book and going to the lecture," Bai said. "Otherwise I would just write an essay."

Crowfoot said the theme year helps students integrate what they learn into a larger world view.

Dragon Boat Festival
Sept. 23
Dragon Boat Workshop
Chinese Drums and Gongs

Sept. 28, 29, 30
"Second Visit to the Empress," Shen Wei Dance Arts.

Sept. 29
Lecture: Behind "Second Visit to the Empress"

Sept. 30
Dragon Boat Festival

"It gives students a greater chance to make connections," Crowfoot said. "It is also rich in co-curricular activities and students learn as much from those activities as they do in the classroom."

The summer reading program gives new students a head start on the theme year, said Marjorie Horton, LSA assistant dean for Undergraduate Education and a coordinator of the program.

"It engages our students before they even arrive on campus in a shared intellectual pursuit and promotes their involvement with faculty and peers in discussions," Horton said. "It also helps to connect them to the theme year."

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma will perform at Hill Auditorium Nov. 10 in his first Ann Arbor recital since 2000.

The theme year will conclude in June, just prior to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, with a "Sunrise to Moonrise" day of global cultural activities in collaboration with the Ann Arbor Summer Festival.

"The activities we have planned will engage students, faculty and the community, and help us all answer the question, Why China? Why now?" said Evans Young, LSA assistant dean for Undergraduate Education.

The focus of the theme year is consistent with President Mary Sue Coleman's China Initiative to develop academic partnerships with the country's universities and strengthen U-M's existing collaborations.

For more information go to

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