Faculty mentor: Megan M. Ferry, Professor of Chinese and Chair of Modern Languages and Literatures Department
Student fellows: Trevor Atkins, Jeremy Rausch, Meghan Reilly
Between State and Populace, Chasing the China Dream
The Project Team considers the important role media plays as a communicative apparatus between the state and its people, and we want to measure the effectiveness of the China Dream message, the topics it covers and the ones it ignores. Is the China Dream a commercialized nationalism, as one Chinese scholar would put it; a nation-branding initiative driven by profit-driven industries? The students will meet with academic scholars in Shanghai for a more nuanced analysis. The Team wants to know what Chinese individuals make of the Dream, and if it is in accordance with their local situation and individual goals for their future. In addition to analyzing a variety of media, the Project Team will engage with citizens across a broad spectrum of class and educational differences to learn their understanding of the China Dream’s message and to what extent it measures with their individual aspirations. This project joins in the discussion on the China Dream and popular interpretations of it with Chinese and Western scholars and policy institutes.
The project focus arose from discussion with the Project Team members about current global issues of public opinion and popular nationalism. A series of global events in the last few years indicate a remarkable stake in a nation’s identity and political authority. From Brexit to Catalan, Blue States vs. Red States, anti-immigrant marches and laws in the European Union and mass deportations of undocumented workers in the US, these fissures represent a rift in the nation-state narrative. Project Team students are witnessing nations’ cultural and social conflicts on a global scale and cannot help but ask whether or not a government’s actions are actually tearing local communities apart and undermining citizens’ welfare. The internal conflicts within the nation-state affect both domestic and international cooperation and advancement.
Student Team members are bringing their own personal and professional interests in data analysis, US foreign policy, and education to meet with and listen to a variety of perspectives on the China Dream. Student Team members identified personal interest in sticking to long-term objectives despite uncertain, short-term obstacles, curiosity about multiple perspectives to view an issue, and the role of knowledge in being able to negotiate the complicated mediasphere.
The Project addresses skill and professional development in key moments of the project. Pre-planning includes a focus on procedural thinking, project planning and implementation, financial budget and travel planning, data collection and analysis, media literacy, as well as teamwork. The in-country time will develop verbal and written communication, teamwork in diverse settings, cross-cultural communication, flexibility, problem solving, leadership, and risk management. The post-trip portion will emphasize critical thinking, analysis, collaboration across the disciplines, and ways to outreach to a variety of audiences, including college students, Asianists, the public, and high school students. The entire project will deepen students’ interpersonal and intrapersonal skills through self-reflection, constant human interaction, and personal and professional goal setting. Moreover, the project will strengthen their intercultural competency. These critical skills will prepare them for their future career and professions.