China and Japan: Traditional and Contemporary "Silk Roads"

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Fall 2018, Winter 2019, and Spring 2019 quarters

Taught by

visual arts, Chinese studies, human development
Japanese language and culture

This program will introduce the history, culture, and philosophy of China and Japan. We will use the theme of the Silk Road in our examination of China as the heart of Asian civilization and Japan as a constant presence at the eastern end of the route. Our inquiry into Chinese and Japanese history will focus on periods in which foreign contacts were most influential, for example, when Buddhism traveled the Silk Road to reach Japan, and when Europeans reached and interacted with Asia via the sea and land routes. We will examine contemporary “Silk Roads” that incorporate new trends, technologies, and aspirations. The program also covers Asian philosophies, including Daoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Shintoism and their distinct time/space concepts. We will examine Chinese and Japanese ideographic languages and their embedded worldviews and aesthetic sensitivities as expressed in poetry and other artistic forms.

In fall quarter we will study Chinese and Japanese history up to the 12th to 13th century, in addition to Daoist philosophy, Buddhism, and Japanese aesthetics from the early to medieval period. In winter, our history studies will move toward the modern period. Our cultural studies will examine spiritual, religious, and aesthetic traditions in depth. Students will take part in a three-day Lunar New Year celebration in early February. There will be an optional three-week study abroad trip to both China and Japan starting in Week 9 and extending into spring break. Four additional credits may be earned from this trip. Students who do not participate in the trip will remain in close contact with those on the trip and continue their research. During spring quarter our history study will cover the contemporary period. Students will continue the research started in winter quarter and complete a project connecting theory and practice. Credits will be given in Chinese and Japanese history and culture and in the area of the student’s research.

Program assignments include a weekly response paper or collage, an art journal, quarterly or bi-quarterly research presentations, and a quarterly integration paper. Students will post their responses and comment on each other’s work via Canvas throughout the week. Each class period typically starts with Tai Ji, a physical activity that embodies ancient Chinese spiritual traditions. Other program activities include field trips to the Chinese and Japanese gardens in Portland, Ore., a museum visit, calligraphy demonstrations and workshops, and studying Chinese tea culture and the Japanese tea ceremony.

Students are encouraged to take a Japanese or Chinese language course for 4 credits in addition to this program.

Program Details

Fields of Study

art history international studies philosophy

Preparatory For

Chinese and Japanese studies, Cultural studies, Silk Roads studies, arts, education, history


Fall Open Winter Open Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Study Abroad

At the end of Winter quarter students will have an opportunity for study abroad in China, Japan, and possibly Korea. Approximate cost of $3950.00 includes airfare

Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

Saturdays, 9am - 5pm + a three day Lunar New Year Tai Ji seminar in Winter quarter, 2019

Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning 25 - 49% Delivered Online


$25 fall and spring, $10 in winter for entrance fees and art supplies.