The United States and China (Gen Ed 1068)





Are the United States and China destined for conflict or can they lead the world in addressing common challenges?


Histories, Societies, Individuals icon with text

William C. Kirby

The United States and China are global economic and military powers. They have a rich history of commerce, friendship, alliance, and antagonism. Both countries have been shaped and re-shaped by the nature of their mutual relations. Their relationship is in crisis, the outcome of which will do much to define the world of the 21st century.

This University-wide course invites undergraduates and graduate students to examine together the present and future of U.S.-China relations in the light of their past. What are the enduring patterns and issues in China’s relations with the United States? How have these two countries perceived each other over time? How has trade defined the relationship from the Opium War to Huawei? How has war shaped experiences in the United States and China, and what are the risks of military confrontation today? What are the prospects for cooperation on global crises such as climate change? What is the role of American and Chinese universities, such as Harvard and Tsinghua, in shaping mutual relations in a time of global pandemic?

The course emphasizes active, participant-centered discussions of major issues, texts, and contemporary events, and will engage with Harvard Business School cases, experts on the U.S.-China relationship, and the rich resources of Harvard’s schools and the Harvard Center Shanghai. In their final project, students, working in groups, will address a central challenge in the Chinese-American relationship and propose a solution.


Register for Gen Ed 1068