Five years ago, the Ford School of Public Policy made an important decision. ALL of our students – not just those studying Asia, not just those in the international track – deserved the chance to learn about China.
Why? Think about education. China has more school children learning math, science, and even English than the United States. Education policy scholars can learn from the policy alternatives that China is adopting to teach its diverse student populations.
Or consider economic development. Between 1989-2004, poverty dropped dramatically in China, from 47% to 24% in rural areas and 27% to 18% in urban areas. But at the same time, the gap between the rich and poor grew dramatically. (Loh, Goh, and Zhu 2014) Policy analysts who want to raise living standards in the Third World have to see China as both model and cautionary tale.
China is not just a laboratory for policy tools. The policies China adopts also have a direct impact on the work of policymakers in the rest of the world. On climate change, on monetary policy, on foreign aid – to name just three – China’s decisions change the strategic calculations of leaders of other countries, businesses, and international organizations.
As a result, the Ford School decided that our students needed the chance to learn about and experience China for themselves. So each year, 15 students are selected to travel to China for two weeks. Before they arrive, they study China’s policy environment and prepare briefs on current policy issues. Then in country, they meet with a cross-section of leaders in the policy community – government, business, NGOs, academics, both domestic and foreign. They experience different aspects of China’s recent modernization and past history firsthand. They talk with MPP and MPA students in China’s leading policy programs.
Join us on our two-week trip to China – and in the Ford School’s continuing engagement with one of the world’s most fascinating and important countries!