Teaching the Geography of China

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups: China Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM (MDT)
Room: Studio 5, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Organizers: Andrew Grant, Yang Yang
Chairs: Andrew Grant


What are the most effective strategies and approaches to teaching courses on the Geography of China? The question raises a number of ancillary questions about audiences, about course content, and about the challenges of navigating topics that can be both unfamiliar and politically fraught.
In North American classrooms, teaching the geography of China provides a great opportunity for geographers to shed light on a subject matter that is often known to students only through simplistic media narratives. In Asia, teaching the course raises a number of questions about the nature and extent of China as a society, economy, and regional power. Other classrooms around the globe produce other pedagogic challenges. In attempting to teach a class that is truthful, interesting, informative, and timely, it can be a difficult to present subjects that educate students about China, while approaching sensitive or controversial topics with a critical yet empathetic perspective. Furthermore, diverse student bodies may have different expectations and frames of reference for what is relevant to the geography of China and how these topics should be discussed. When teaching critical scholarship, instructors risk potentially offending some students as well as potentially feeding into media-fueled prejudices about China.

- How to use potentially controversial issues to open cross-cultural discussions
- What are useful comparisons for North American or non-Chinese students with little experience/knowledge of China
- Balancing "critical" perspectives with those more empathetic to Chinese policy
- When and how instructors should engage with media-driven narratives about China
- Balancing expectations/frameworks between North American and global student backgrounds, such as mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan
- What "self-censorship" might look and sound like in the classroom
- What a nuanced view of China looks like in the classroom today
- Engaging assignments that further critical reflection on the geography of China
- Ethics of teaching the geography of China
- Balancing focusing on “dark things” in contemporary China and "lighter" topics
- How to incorporate perspectives from other countries in the East Asian region and beyond


Type Details Minutes
Panelist Gregory Veeck Western Michigan University 15
Panelist Piper Gaubatz University Of Massachusetts 15
Panelist Bai Kai 15
Panelist Yuling Song National Changhua University of Education, Department of Geography 15
Panelist Christian Kesteloot KU Leuven 15

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