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The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Understanding China, 1700-2000: A Data Analytic Approach, Part 2

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology via Coursera


The purpose of this course is to summarize new directions in Chinese history and social science produced by the creation and analysis of big historical datasets based on newly opened Chinese archival holdings, and to organize this knowledge in a framework that encourages learning about China in comparative perspective. Our course demonstrates how a new scholarship of discovery is redefining what is singular about modern China and modern Chinese history. Current understandings of human history and social theory are based largely on Western experience or on non-Western experience seen through a Western lens. This course offers alternative perspectives derived from Chinese experience over the last three centuries. We present specific case studies of this new scholarship of discovery divided into two stand-alone parts, which means that students can take any part without prior or subsequent attendance of the other part. Part 1 ( focuses on comparative inequality and opportunity and addresses two related questions ‘Who rises to the top?’ and ‘Who gets what?’. Part 2 (this course) turns to an arguably even more important question ‘Who are we?’ as seen through the framework of comparative population behavior - mortality, marriage, and reproduction – and their interaction with economic conditions and human values. We do so because mortality and reproduction are fundamental and universal, because they differ historically just as radically between China and the West as patterns of inequality and opportunity, and because these differences demonstrate the mutability of human behavior and values. Course Overview video:


  • Orientation and Module 1: Who Are We and Who Survives
    • Before you start with the content for Module 1, please review the Assignments and Grading page and introduce yourself to other learners who will be studying this course with you.
  • Module 2: Who Reproduces and Who Marries
  • Module 3: Who Cares and Course Conclusion
    • In this module, James and his post-graduate student Hao DONG will co-deliver the lectures.
  • Final Exam and Farewell
    • Now is time to test your understanding on the entire course. Take the final exam and complete the post-course survey. Your valuable feedback will certainly help us improve future iterations of the course.

Taught by

James Lee and Hao Dong


5.0 rating, based on 3 Class Central reviews

4.5 rating at Coursera based on 57 ratings

Start your review of Understanding China, 1700-2000: A Data Analytic Approach, Part 2

  • Anonymous
    What an AWESOME course! The professors are really warm, and the class is EXTREMELY informative. The best thing about the data-analytic approach is that it's pure facts, so you don't need to worry about any political propaganda or fake information. Thank you SOOOOOOO much, Professor Lee and Professor Wang!
    You rock!
  • It is a very interesting course. The subject is the demography and the sociology compared in ancient and modern Europe and China.
  • Anonymous
    Excellent course to understand China cultural past and the present cultural background. Very interesting approach and methods. I suggest to all those want to know more about the metodology about sociology and modern way to approach and analize history.

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