Coursera Course Review: Chinese Culture and Contemporary China (Nanjing University)

Over the last two decade, there have been a massive interest in Understanding China. Being a self-confessed Sinophile, I am have been on this “China Understanding” journey for almost a decade now. Given the obvious market that is out there for “Westerns” who want to “know” China, there is a mountain of content available online. But how do you pick up the sources that you can truly derive value from?

From Chinese language learning websites (with embedded culture tidbits), to travel videos on Youtube (with embedded culture tid-bits), it’s all there. On the Internet. For Free! – However, I’ve come across very few resources that focus on just “culture”. Probably because Culture is hard to “teach” as is. Unless, of course, you’re enrolled in a University doing a course on culture. A group of professors from Nanjing University have embarked to bring university-level learning on Chinese “Culture”, and to break it down for a contemporary Western/English-speaking audience, and with the right anecdotes and examples.

Chinese Culture

The course is called: Chinese Culture and Contemporary China. It’s a 6-week course with the following 6 modules:

  1. Week 1: Essentials of Chinese Confucian Thought
  2. Week 2: Essentials of Chinese Painting
  3. Week 3: Essentials of Chinese Painting
  4. Week 4: Essentials of Chinese Costume
  5. Week 5: Chinese Cuisine
  6. Week 6: Chinese Traditional Festivals

I’ve completed the course, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Also got myself a certificate from Nanjing University / Coursera – See below 🙂

Chinese Course

The course, I must say, has been very well designed by teachers of the Institute for International Students at Nanjing University. Incidentally, I also happened to meet (in-person) one of the faculties behind this course – Prof. Julius Vaitkevicius, a very interesting academician, originally from Lithuania. His depth of knowledge on global culture (not just Chinese), as well as his thoughts on subjects Confucianism and Toaism are things that I will take away well from the course!

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