Shanghai Semester a Singular Opportunity for Undergrads


Learning in a different culture and experiencing the “futureness” of China’s largest city are key reasons for U of G students to apply this week for the Shanghai semester in fall 2014. So says Guelph history professor Norm Smith, who has served as semester co-ordinator since the program began in 2010. Third- and fourth-year undergrads will learn Mandarin Chinese and take credit courses at East China Normal University (ECNU).

Located in the Yangtze River delta in East China, Shanghai is one of the world’s most important financial and trade hubs. Dubbed the “Paris of the Far East” during the early 1900s, Shanghai saw some of the key events of the past century, including imperialist wars, the Cultural Revolution and China’s current economic transformation.

The Shanghai semester is open to students from U of G, the University of Guelph-Humber, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo. They will be among about 200 international students spending next fall at ECNU.

Smith studies modern China and Asia as well as Chinese women’s history. He first visited the country as an Edmonton high school student in 1978. For the past two decades, he has returned each year for language studies in Northeast China.   

This year’s Shanghai semester co-ordinator is fine art professor James Carl, who spent three years travelling through Asia after his undergrad. He took East Asian studies at McGill University and returned twice to China to study calligraphy and sculpting in Beijing.

The Shanghai semester is among several research and teaching links between U of G and ECNU.

The application deadline is Jan. 25. For more information, contact