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  • Locations: Beijing, China
  • Program Terms: Jan Term
  • Restrictions: McDaniel applicants only
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Program Type: Jan Term
Program Description:

HIS 1149 Hydraulic Society: Life along the Grand Canal

Faculty leaders: Dr. Qin Fang, and
Peter Chen,

Unsuccessful Politician Garden



This course explores the diversity of people and nature in China through the lens of the Grand Canal. Our tour starts from its northern end in Beijing to its southern end in Haining and Hangzhou. What happens on the canal daily? Who live along the canal? How do they understand their life along the canal?  How do people and the canal shape each other? How has the canal changed ecologically, socially, and culturally? How do people understand their relationship with the canal? To answer these questions, student gather stories about local life along the canal. We visit ancient archeological sites, museums, monuments, and parks to interview businessmen, workers, silkworm raisers, scientists, historians, college students and their teachers, activists, and artists. The culmination of our travel is the collaboration with local college students to design and launch a media project.
This course is an interdisciplinary course of McDaniel College. The course fulfills International (Nonwestern) McDaniel Plan tag.  Students from all academic disciplines and backgrounds are eligible for the class.


Suzhou, a Chinese Venice
This is a 12-day China trip to explore the culture, history, and status of ecology system along the Grand Canal from north China to south China. Our itinerary includes visiting the region’s historical sites, hustling metropolitan cities Beijing, Hangzhou, and Shanghai, three Grand Canal cities at Zhenjiang, Yangzhou, and Haining. At each site, we will engage in media development and intercultural learning. In Haining and Hangzhou, we interview local community about their life along the Grand Canal and the seawalls. 
Tentative January 2020 Itinerary
Tentative dates: Jan. 1-15, 2020
students on bikes

Day 1: Fly to Beijing
Day 2-3: Arrival in Beijing: Great Wall and Grand Canal.
Beijing is political center of China and the northern end of the Grand Canal. We will climb the Great Wall. We will get a first glimpse of the Grand Canal by visiting the ancient site of the Grand Canal.
Day 4-5: Arrival in Yangzhou and Zhenjiang, He Garden and Slender West Lake.
Yangzhou and Zhenjiang are where the Grand Canal meets the Yangzi River. Both cities
are known for their gardens fusing the style from south and north China. We will have boat tours in two cities to understand how two cities have been shaped by the Grand Canal.  
Day 6-9: Arrival in Haining and Hangzhou: Seawall, Jin Yong Academy, West Lake, etc.  
Hangzhou is where Alibaba, a Chinese Amazon, headquarters. It just held 2016 G20 Summit. Hangzhou is the southern end of the Grand Canal and has long been a cultural and economic center of China. Haining is called China’s Netherland. It is a tourism destination of the world largest tidal waves—Haining Tidal Bores. Since the 18th century, a stone seawall has been constantly constructed to prevent the world largest tidal bores. We will work together with college students from Hangzhou and Haining to interview local engineers, historians, silkworm raisers, local officials, businessmen, etc. for the stories of life along the seawall. 
Day 10-11: Shanghai: Jinmao Tower, Zhou Zhuang, and Qibao Market Town
Shanghai is the economic and financial center of China. The Huangpu River divides the city into two parts. We will climb the highest landmark of the city and visit market towns of Zhou Zhuang and Qibao to understand how China’s Venice style water canals shape the rhythm of local life.
Day 12: Shanghai-Washington DC.
people on bridge


 During the Jan term experience, students will be staying in a hotel or hostel with private bathroom.  All meals are included.


 HIS 1149, Hydraulic Society: The Life along the Grand Canal.
During two week’s stay in China, students take pictures and write journals, and integrate it into compelling stories about Chinese people and its nature.
As part of the course, students will:
  • Learn more about intercultural communication skills through interacting with local community
  • Develop role with a team and design and implement research strategies for field work
  • Learn about career opportunities
Grading will be a mix of task completion and self-reflection.
students in classrooms


The total cost per student is $3800. The cost includes all airfare and air taxes, local transportation (including “bullet” trains from Beijing to Shanghai), hotels and meals, visa fees, entrance fees for museums and archaeological sites, instruction, and insurance coverage. Students will also have to pay for a passport, if they do not already have one. Other expenses vary a great deal from one person to another, but a good rule of thumb is to allow about $20 per day for snacks and bottle water.
This price is competitive with other McDaniel Jan-terms to Japan and China.

Scholarship Opportunity!
Scholarship funds are available for students willing to do research in China.  Contact Dr. Fang for more information (
students making art


The focus of the program is on-site study and travel throughout the Grand Canal in China. Each day we visit different sites, monuments, museums, and other locations for on-site lecture and discussion. More importantly, students will meet and collaborate with their college counterparts in China for a project about life stories along the Grand Canal.
Great Wall of China


Registration is by permission of the instructor and acceptance is determined by the instructor’s goal of building a diverse and interdisciplinary team with varied skill sets and experiences. To arrange an interview, email Dr. Fang (, a statement of approximately 100 words, that explains (a) why you want to participate in the course and (b) what you want to bring to the team.

Note: Registration in a study tour does not guarantee participation. The faculty leader for the study must provide final approval for all registered students to participate. By registering for this class you agree to allow the Office of Student Affairs to review and approve your student record along with the faculty instructor of the class. Your enrollment in this class is not final until Student Affairs and the faculty instructor for the class approve your registration.)


Deadline to apply:  09/15/2019 - Extended to 9-30-19

Last day to withdraw: 09/30/2019 - After this date non-refundable fees will be assessed.

This program is currently not accepting applications.