The Qing Dynasty was the wealthiest, most powerful, most civilized state on earth — but by the 20th century, a 2,000-year imperial tradition is gone. What happened?
This series explores the building of contemporary China, a new country that sits on the bedrock of a great and ancient civilization. China re-engages with the West, the Communist Party comes to the fore, the Cultural Revolution returns Mao to power, and economic reforms usher in new foreign investments and renewed international trade. Throughout, enduring issues — political unity, population growth, environmental costs, social constraints, commercialization, internationalization — test the country’s national identity.
When did modern Chinese history begin? How do you define a “modern China”? Will the 21st century be the Chinese century? As China continues to play a critical role on the world stage, understanding these questions is essential to understanding the global world we live in. This course provides that understanding and will enable you to find your own answers.
Courses under this program: Course 1: Modern China’s Foundations: The Manchus and the Qing
Learn how the Manchus conquered the Qing and established the last of the imperial dynasties.
Course 2: Invasions, Rebellions, and the Fall of Imperial China
An overview of modern Chinese history, including the fall of the Qing and the end of imperial China.
Course 3: Creating Modern China: The Republican Period to the Present
Explore the birth of modern China with a focus on the time between the fall of the Qing and the end of World War II.
Course 4: China and Communism
Explore the Maoist period of China, from the Communist Party to the death of Mao and the reopening of China.
Course 5: Contemporary China: The People's Republic, Taiwan, and Hong Kong
Use the case study method to study China from the rise of Deng Xiaoping to the present.
This course, part of a comprehensive series on China, looks at the Qing state in the early 1600s and the challenges that the Manchus faced as minority rulers. While living in Chinese cities and surrounded by Chinese culture — a culture that was far more sophisticated than their own — the Manchus struggled to hold onto their identity as a conquesting people.
We'll look at the last period of ascendancy for China before the modern era. We’ll cover China in the 18th century, under the Kangxi, Yongzheng, and Qianlong emperors — a period in which the size of the empire nearly doubles.
The Qing was the last dynasty before the foundation of the modern republics and sets the stage for everything that will come after. Join us to learn about this critical era in Chinese history, an era that sets the stage for a truly modern China.
In the 18th century, the Qing Dynasty is at its height; it is the wealthiest, most powerful,most civilized state on earth. And yet the 19th century brought enormous challenges for the Qing and for the place we call China. By the 20th century, a 2,000-year imperial tradition is gone. What happened?
In this overview of modern Chinese history, you’ll learn about the Qing was forced to engage with the West, the impact of imperialism and dynastic decline, and, ultimately, the causes of the Qing dynasty’s fall. This course will cover the effects of opium, how the Qing responded to that epidemic, and how the opium war brought fundamental changes to the country. You’ll also learn about the introduction of Christianity in this period, and about the ideology of Chinese salvation.
This is a time when intellectuals were wrestling with new western ideas and new western technologies. This course will help you to understand how China engaged with the West, and how this confrontation still resonates today.
What does it mean to be modern? What constitutes modern politics, modern institutions, a modern military, and modern infrastructure? In this period of great excitement and experimentation, the country is asking itself: How do you become modern and remain true to the Chinese national identity?
This course will explore enduring issues around Chinese modernity, with a focus on the creation of the modern Chinese state during the Republican era. You’ll learn about China’s war against Japan, about long-term patterns in U.S.-China relations, and about the role of individual leaders against the backdrop of historical circumstance.
Ultimately, you’ll learn different ways to study and understand history. We explore this period thematically rather than chronologically, providing you with a better understanding of how political context influences the interpretation of history.
How did the Communists conquer China? What role does culture play? What are the successes and failures of the Chinese Communist Party after seizing power in 1949? What constitutes liberation?
This course will help you answer these important questions as you explore the profound cultural, intellectual, political and economic changes of this period. You’ll learn how Communist China fits in with a larger socialist world order and how historical interpretations of this period reinforce or challenge the official narrative in China today.
Join us to develop your own approach and gain a critical understanding of the rise of the Communist Party, Sino-Soviet relations, the Cultural Revolution, and, ultimately, the reopening of China.
Using case studies from the Harvard Business School, this course will cover the contemporary Chinese scene by focusing on five main themes in China’s development: agriculture, entrepreneurship, education, environment, and literature.
You’ll examine the period from Deng Xiaoping’s rise in 1978 to the present, using the lenses of sociology, political science, and economics. You’ll learn how China has maintained one-party rule in an era of reform and internationalization, and how contemporary developments — like the current conception of the “Chinese Dream” — are influenced by the legacies of China’s past. You’ll also examine Greater China with a focus on the Taiwan model and Taiwan’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China.
Developing your own approaches to history, you’ll gain a critical appreciation of China’s literary, philosophical, political, and cultural resources. Enroll now to understand China’s global leadership role and to learn if the 21st century is truly “the Chinese century.”
Peter K. Bol, William C. Kirby and Mark C. Elliott