Harvey Mudd College

Spring 2009

STS 179 Science and Society in Modern China


Instructor: Zuoyue Wang                               Office: 1263 Parsons

Spring Semester 2009                                    Office Hours: TR 1:30-2:30pm and appmt

Class: TR 2:45-4:00pm                                  Phone: 909-607-0856

Classroom: 1264 Parsons                               Email: zuoyue_wang@hmc.edu 

Course website: www.csupomona.edu/~zywang/sts179s2009.htm


Course Description: In this course, we will combine lectures, readings, and discussions to explore the history of modern science in China in the modern period, especially from the late 19th to the early 21st century.  The focus is on the cultural and institutional aspects of science before the Communist revolution of 1949, and on science and politics thereafter during the Mao Zedong and post-Mao eras.  Topics include the introduction of modern science into China, the role of science during the May 4th movement of 1919, the Nationalist science policy, Western, especially American, influences on Chinese science, the effect of the war against Japan and the civil war, Communist science, technology, and environmental policy after 1949, the persecution of scientists under Mao, the impact of Dengist reform on Chinese science, China-US scientific interactions, and the role of science and technology in the economic rise of China in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.  Along the way, we will use the Chinese case to answer some general questions in the history of science: What roles do nationalism, internationalism, and transnational interactions play in the development of science and technology? Do different cultures produce different kinds of science?  Can science flourish in a totalitarian regime or does science require and lead to liberal democracy?


Learning Objectives: By the end of the class, students should be able to: 1) gain a better understanding of the dynamics driving Chinese science and society in the modern era; 2) develop and improve writing, critical thinking, and communication skills, and information literacy; and 3) demonstrate knowledge and skills acquired through the research and writing of a term paper as an in-depth examination, usually historical, of a particular topic related to science and society in modern China.


Learning Environment: In this class we will discuss a large number of socially and politically relevant issues related to science and society in modern China.  To create an optimal learning environment that promotes critical thinking and constructive collaboration, it is important that we conduct our discussions in a civil and intellectually open manner, that everyone should feel free to express his/her evidence-based arguments, and that everyone is willing to consider alternative points of views.  You will be evaluated by how actively and thoughtfully you participate in the discussions and how articulate and well-supported your arguments are in both the discussions and the writing assignments; you will not be evaluated on whether your views agree with those of the instructor or the authors of works we discuss in class.


Further Tips on How to Succeed in This Class: 


Read the Textbooks: They provide the core facts and theories in the class, and therefore it’s most important to “get them done” thoroughly before moving to other sources relevant to the class.  Yes, you can pick up facts on individuals and events from the web, such as wikipedia, but often they come in as isolated pieces of information without the proper context that is developed in the textbooks.  It’s also important to relate your term paper with arguments from the textbooks.  You do not necessarily need to agree with these arguments; in fact the best papers tend to revise the accepted views as represented in the textbooks.  But, whether you agree with the textbooks or not, it often helps if you can relate your main argument with theirs, either as a confirmation or as a revision.


Engage in Informal Learning: Read the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, or other news publications, listen to NPR, and watch PBS, including its Frontline programs.  These will help keep you intellectually stimulated and keep you informed of current debates over major political, social, and technological issues in the US, China, and elsewhere in the world, which in turn would help you better understand the dynamics of historical changes in the past.  The New York Times is available free on its website (http://www.nytimes.com/); pay special attention to its Opinion and Book Reviews sections. 


Talk to Others about What You Are Learning in the Class: Trying to explain something to someone else will help you better understand what you are trying to explain.  Questions from your audience are usually very helpful in giving a new way of looking at the problem.  Often you will find that you do not quite “get it” yourself, but that’s fine.  This discovery will motivate you to read the texts again or to discuss the problem with your instructor.


Communicate with Your Instructor: Professor Wang encourages you to raise questions at any time in class and to talk to him, in class or in his office during office hours, on any issue related to this class.  You can best contact him outside of class via email.


Use Resources on Campus and Improve Your Writing Skills and Information Literacy: Make use of reference librarians to help with your research.  Go to the campus’s Writing Center and read one of the texts, William Kelleher Storey’s Writing History: A Guide for Students, to improve your writing skills.  Go to campus events and lectures to broaden your horizon.  Choose Your Sources of Information intelligently, using Wikipedia as a starting point but not as an end point.  And finally, be an Intentional Learner by connecting this class with your intellectual interest and your career goals.


Required Books Available at Huntley Bookstore:


Benjamin A. Elman, A Cultural History of Modern Science in China (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006).

Laurence Schneider, Biology and Revolution in Twentieth-Century China (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005).

John Lewis and Litai Xue, China Builds the Bomb (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1991).

Judith Shapiro, Mao's War against Nature: Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

William Kelleher Storey, Writing History: A Guide for Students (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008)  

In addition there will be additional and online reading assignments.


Term Paper: There is no examination in this class.  Students will be required to write a major paper to explore one aspect of science and society in modern China. The topic has to be approved by Prof. Wang in advance.  During the first two weeks, try to thumb through the texts to get an overview of the topics we will be studying and think about what topics you would like to write on.  You should start with a general topic, e.g., China’s development of the atomic bomb, and proceed to narrow it to a more manageable scale, e.g., how did the American government and public react to the possibility and then the fact of the Chinese atomic bomb test in 1964?  You are required to submit and discuss with Prof. Wang your term paper proposal, including a tentative title, and a one-paragraph description of your subject on Tues. 2/3 during week 3 of class.  A draft of the paper is due on Tues. 4/28 during week 14.  The completed paper is due on May 7 Thur. 


Format of Paper: It should be at least 15 pages, double-spaced, with 12 point, Times New Roman font and one inch margin on all sides, printed on plain paper using a laser-jet or ink-jet printer, stapled at the upper-left corner.  Put your name, class, title of the paper on the first page of the paper.  We will discuss various aspects of writing in class as well.  All writings are graded for both grammar and content and there will be presentations and discussions of paper drafts later in the semester.


Criteria for Evaluating Paper: A good paper will have a captivating introduction (1-2 pp), a brief (1 page) but incisive historiographical discussion (what other scholars have said about your topic broadly?), a clear thesis statement (1 paragraph; what’s your main argument—not your topic—and how does it relate to other scholars’ points of view as summarized in the historiography?), a narrative built on a variety of evidence such as scholarly books and articles, but especially primary sources, such as reports in newspapers or magazines, or oral history interviews.  It can describe an event or individual, but should explain how that event or individual does or does not fit in the general themes of this class.


Sample Term Paper Topics:

The Nationalists and scientific planning

Why did most Chinese scientists decide to stay in the mainland in 1949?

What motivated Chinese scientists to participate in the atomic bomb project?

Evolution of Chinese policy toward global warming 


Reading Worksheets on the Texts: Everyone is expected to complete the assigned chapters from the texts in each session before the start of the session.  To help you manage the reading assignments, you will write and turn in a one-page (typed) reading worksheet (click on above link to download a template) at the end of each session.  The worksheet covers: 1) the main points of the reading, 2) what’s new and striking to you, 3) a question you want to be discussed in class, and 4) any relevant news item that you can use to illustrate how the present is related to the past discussed in the readings.


Book Reviews: Please select two additional books (or one book and two articles) from the supplemental readings (see “Topics and Reading Assignments” below) and write a two-page (double-spaced) review of each book or a one-page review of each article which are due on the day that topic is discussed.  In the review, please give the reader a summary of the main argument of the author, some sense of the published reviews (you can find them in Jstor and Project Muse), your own evaluation of the work, and how it relates to the discourse on science and society in modern China.  Also be prepared to give a short (2-3 minutes) oral report on the book or article on the same day.


Video Reviews: We will be watching a number of videos, mainly documentaries, related to science and society in modern China.  You will write a short review (one-paragraph) on what’s most striking to you to facilitate discussions afterwards.

Hixon Forum (Conference): On February 27-28, 2009, Harvey Mudd College will host the Hixon Forum on “Science and Technology in the Making of Modern China” (click on the link for the conference program/schedule).  This is a unique opportunity for students in this class to meet and interact with leading scholars on science and society in modern China.  All students in this class are expected to attend (and participate in) at least two sessions of the conference and write a one-page report on what they learn from the experiences.  If you attend more than two sessions, participate in the discussions, and cover these in your report, you may receive extra-credit in the class.


Reflective Essay: At the end of the semester, as you turn in your term paper, you will also need to complete a reflective essay on the course: how has it changed the way you think about science, technology, society, and China, what are some of the most important things that you have learned through this class, and how do you think that the class will help you in your intellectual growth and your career.


Classroom Ground Rules (for the benefit of all of us):

1.     Avoid late entry or early exit without instructor’s prior authorization.

2.     Late works will be penalized by 1/3 letter grade per day, e.g. B to B- if one day late.

3.     Repeated, unexcused absences will considerably lower your grade for the class. 

4.     Cell phones should be turned off during class period; no text messaging is allowed once class starts.

5.     The use of laptop computers is not allowed in this class unless its necessity is certified by the office of the Dean of Students (e.g., due to learning disabilities) or with the permission of the instructor.

6.     In general, activities not related to this class are prohibited during class: e.g., newspaper-reading, doing work for another class, and chatting.

7.     If you do not use your HMC email account regularly, you will need to set it up so any email sent to your HMC account will be forwarded to an email address you do use.

8.     If you have any learning disabilities and might need special accommodations, please contact me or the Office of the Dean of Students.

9.     Plagiarism: As stated in the HMC Student Handbook, academic dishonesty, especially plagiarism—presenting writing and ideas of others as one’s own without proper citation—is a serious academic misconduct and can lead to severe disciplinary actions. 


Grades (general guidelines):

Attendance, Participation in Discussion, Presentations: 25%

Reading Worksheets, Book/Article/Video Reviews, Hixon report, and Reflective Essay: 25%

Term Paper: 50%


Tentative Topics and Reading Assignments (subject to change; suggestions for readings are welcome; *indicates reading assignment for all students in class):


Week 1

1/20 Tues.       Introduction to class; Research resources; students select reading and discussion assignments.

                        World News Connection (includes translated news reports from China; most useful primary sources)

                        Academic Search Premier

Dissertations and Theses


Gale Databases (Times of London, 1785-1985, and Economist, 1843-2003)

HistSciTechMed Database

IEEE Xplore Database


JStor (esp. The China Quarterly and Isis)

Lexus-Nexis Congressional (1969-present Congressional documents, esp. hearings)

                        Los Angeles Times historical

                        New York Times historical

                        Project Muse

                        Reader’s Guide Retrospective


1/22 Thur.       Current status and issues in Chinese science, technology, and environment

                        *Hao Xin, “You Say You Want a Revolution,” Science 322 (October 31, 2008): 664-666.

*Jianguo Liu and Jared Diamond, “Revolutionizing China’s Environmental Protection,” Science 319 (January 4, 2008): 37-38.

*Hao Xin and Jia Heping, “China Supersizes Its Science,” Science 315 (March 9, 2007): 1354-1355.

Week 2

1/27 Tues.       Current Issues in the History of Science in Modern China

*Benjamin Elman, “New Directions in the History of Modern Science in China: Global Science and Comparative History

                        *Fa-ti Fan, “Redrawing the Map: Science in Twentieth-Century China

                        *Zuoyue Wang, “Science and the State in Modern China

                        *Dennis Overbye, “Elevating Science, Elevating Democracy,” New York Times, January 26, 2009.

                        *Doug McInnis, “Capitalizing on China’s Energy Boom,” Harvey Mudd College Magazine, Fall 2008.

                        *Richard Olson and Zuoyue Wang, “What Can We Expect from the New Administration?Harvey Mudd College Magazine, Winter 2008.


1/29 Thur.       The Jesuits and the Introduction of Modern Science into China

                        *Elman, chapters 1-3

Week 3

2/3 Tues.         Developments in the 19th Century

                        *Elman, chapters 4-7

                        Due: Term Paper Proposal

Fa-ti Fan, British Naturalists in Qing China: Science, Empire, and Cultural Encounter

                        William J. Hass, China Voyager: Gist Gee’s Life in Science

2/5 Thur.         Science and Politics in Republican China: Overview

                        *Schneider, Introduction and Prologue of Part I

                        James Reardon-Anderson, The Study of Change: Chemistry in China, 1840-1949

Week 4

2/10 Tues.       Science and Technology in Early Republican China

                        *Schneider, chapters 1

                        *Grace Shen, “Mirky Waters: Thoughts on Desire, Utility, and the ‘Sea of Modern Science

William C. Kirby, “Technocratic Organization and Technological Development in China: The Nationalist Experience and Legacy, 1928-1953,” in Denis Fred Simon and Merle Goldman (eds.), Science and Technology in Post-Mao China

2/12 Thur.       No Class; Reading Storey and Research on Term Paper Topic

                        Due: One-Page Review of Story

Week 5

2/17 Tues.       Science, Civil Society, and Nationalism

                        *Wang, “Saving China through Science.”

Stacey Bieler, “Patriots” or “Traitors”? A History of American-Educated Chinese Students

                        Peter Buck, American Science and Modern China, 1876-1936

2/19 Thur.       Science in China during the War against Japan and the Civil War

                        *Schneider, chapter 2-3

Week 6

2/24 Tues.       Science and Politics in Early Mao Years

                        *Schneider, chapters 4-6

Sigrid Schmalzer, The People’s Peking Man: Popular Science and Human Identity in Twentieth-Century China

2/26 Thur.       No class meeting. Work on term paper.                   


(2/27 Fri.         Hixon Forum on “Science and Technology in the Making of Modern China”)

(2/28 Sat.        Hixon Forum)

Week 7

3/3 Tues.         Science, Environment, and Politics in the late 1950s

                        *Neushul and Wang, “Between the Devil and the Deep Sea.”

*Shapiro, Preface, Introduction, and chapters 1-2.

Due: One-page report on Hixon Forum 

3/5 Thur.         China’s Road to the Atomic Bomb

                        *Wilson and Xue, chapters 1-3

Week 8

3/10 Tues.       The Making of the Chinese Atomic Bomb

                        *Wilson and Xue, chapters 4-7

                        Iris Chang, Thread of the Silkworm

3/12 Thur.       The Hydrogen Bomb and Beyond

                        *Wilson and Xue, chapters 8-9

Evan Feigenbaum, China’s Techno-Warriors: National Security and Strategic Competition from the Nuclear to the Information Age

Week 9

3/24 Tues.       Science and Politics during the Cultural Revolution

                        *Schneider, chapter 7

                        *Danian Hu, “The Reception of Relativity in China

*Sigrid Schmalzer, “On the Appropriate Use of Rose-Colored Glasses: Reflections on Science in Socialist China

Richard P. Suttmeier, Research and Revolution: Science Policy and Societal Change in China

                        Danian Hu, China and Albert Einstein


3/26 Thur.       Environment and Politics during the Cultural Revolution

                        *Shaprio, chapters 3-4

Week 10

3/31 Tues.       US-China Scientific Exchange in the 1970s

                        *Wang, “US-China Scientific Exchange.”

Kathlin Smith, “The Role of Scientists in Normalizing U.S.-China Relations: 1965-1979,” in Allison L. C. De Cerreño and Alexander Keyan (eds.), Scientific Cooperation, State Conflict

Richard P. Suttmeier, “Scientific Cooperation and Conflict Management in U.S.-China Relations from 1978 to the Present,” in Allison L. C. De Cerreño and Alexander Keyan (eds.), Scientific Cooperation, State Conflict

4/2 Thur.         No Class; Work on Term Paper

Week 11

4/7 Tues.         No Class; Work on Term Paper; Outline, Introduction, and Bibliography Due Thursday. See sample papers 1 and sample paper 2.

4/9 Thur.         Post-Mao Reforms in Science Policy and China’s Rise as a Global Economic Power

                        *Schneider, chapters 8-9 and conclusion

*Shapiro, chapter 5.

Fang Lizhi, Bringing Down the Great Wall: Writings on Science, Culture, and Democracy in China

H. Lyman Miller, Science and Dissent in Post-Mao China: The Politics of Knowledge

Denis Fred Simon and Merle Goldman (eds.), Science and Technology in Post-Mao China (except for Part I)

                        Richard P. Suttmeier, Science, Technology, and China’s Drive for Modernization

Zuoyue Wang, China Goes to the Poles: Science, Nationalism, and Internationalism in Chinese Polar Exploration,” in Keith R. Benson and Helen M. Rozwadowski (eds.), Extremes: Oceanographer’s Adventures at the Poles, 269-302.

Richard P. Suttmeier, “State, Self-Organization, and Identity in the Building of Sino-U.S. Cooperation in Science and Technology,” Asian Perspective 32, no. 1 (2008): 5-31.

                        Cong Cao, China’s Scientific Elite


Week 12

4/14 Tues.       Group Consultations on Term Papers

4/16 Thur.       Individual Consultations on Term Papers

Week 13

4/21 Tues.       Group Consultations on Term Papers

4/23 Thur.       No Class; Complete Term Paper Draft

Week 14

4/28 Tues.       Group Peer Review of Term Papers

                        Email Dr. Wang rough draft by 11pm Monday 4/27;

Bring a physical copy to classroom on Tuesday.

4/30 Thur.       Presentations on Term Papers (I)

Week 15

5/5 Tues.         Presentations on Term Papers (II)

5/7 Thur.         No Meeting.


5/8 Friday: Final version of term paper and reflective essay due by 8pm Friday 5/8