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Open Courses Autumn 2018

Tuesday, 6 November, 2018 - 18:00 to Wednesday, 19 December, 2018 - 20:00
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering campus

As always, the Confucius Institute at the VUB offers open courses during the autumn semester at the VUB. These are courses without credits that anyone, within or outside the VUB, can attend. 

Since the staff and expertise at the Confucius Institute changes, so does the content of the open courses. During the Autumn semester of 2018, we will offer the following courses:

  • 'Belt & Road' Initiative and its narrative
  • Introduction to Modern Chinese History since 1840

All courses take place from 18:00 to 20:00 in the evening. A more detailed description of the open courses can be found below.

'Belt & Road' Initiative and its Narrative

This course centers around the history and the present of the silk roads. As an ancient network of trade routes that connected East and West, the silk roads were already in use during the Han dynasty (207 BC - 220 AD) and the Roman Empire. Bringing silk and other precous commodoties to the West, the silk roads had an impact that can't be underestimated on both sides of the roads for centuries.

Next to discussing the historical importance of the silk roads, the course also investigates the narratives that are built around the silk roads today. The present 'Belt & Road' initiative of the Chinese government is inspired by the silk roads and also aims to promote trade between East and West. But whoever cares to look more closely, will find that differences exist and that nuances are crucial to a good understanding of the initiative.

Content Overview

Date topic Content
06/11 Silk Road and Belt & Road
  • Where was the Silk Road?
  • Why is it the highlight name in the Belt & Road initiative
  • Understanding the traditional silk road and its connection to the Belt & Road Initiative
13/11 Silk Road, Belt & Road and Government
  • The role that government played in the Silk Road in history. The role that governments play in the Belt & Road Initiative today
  • What was the relation between the Silk Road and the government behaviour
  • What is the persuasion of the initiative of the Belt & Road to other state governments
20/11 (class may be postponed) Trade beyond Silk The Silk Road derives its name from the lucrative trade in silk. But many more items were involved and were traded in both directions.
27/11 Beyond trade On the silk road, Buddhism, Islam, astronomy and many more ideas and discoveries were exchanged. We discuss the story of Xuanzang.
4/12 From Indirect to Direct Connection The trade from China to the West past through many regions and cultures. Learning about these connectors helps coordination with relevant countries.
11/12 Reality of the Initiative The trend of globalisation, the economic develpment of China and the developmnt of international cooperation between China and the world. These provide the precondition of the Initiative.
18/12 Dynamic of the Belt & Road Initiative
  • What is happening?
  • What actions does China take?
  • How are other countries responding?


Introduction to Modern Chinese History since 1840

This course provides an interdisciplinary introduction to modern Chinese history from 1840 to 1949. This turbulent period in China's history is marked by a ambiguous relation with the outside world. After being forced to open up to the world through wars and treaties, the consequent import of new ideas causes reform, revolution and chaos. It is in this climate that the outline of the present China takes shape. 

During this historical overview, special attention is reserved for the main social characteristics of the period. Together with the teacher, you will analyse how this has influenced and contributed to the modernisation of China.

Content Overview

Date Topic Content
7/11 From Opium Wars to Anti-Japanese War Wars play an important role in modern Chinese society, forcing China to join the modern world. These wars undermine traditional society and stimulate a national sense in China.
14/11 From Republic of China to People's Republic of China A series of civil wars is fought in China.  Turning down the Qing court, declaring the republic and creating a constitution, etc. 
21/11 Treaties  After the first Opium War, China is forced to sign treaties with foreign powers that violate its sovereignty but are also a source of new knowledge.
28/11 The Economic Modernisation of China, Progress and Recession China's economi is modernising. In order to strengthen the Qing government, a military industry and a new heavy and light industry is born.
5/12 Parliament, Constitution & Political Reform Economic reform is not enough for the survival of China. A new political system is sought, marked by a series of reforms and a new constitution.
12/12 Xinhai Revolution and the Republic of China The Xinhai revolution means the final downfall of the Qing dynasty and the start of the Republic of China.
19/12 Culture Revolution New standards are introduced in China, mostly coming from the West. This new Culture Movement creates a strong contrast with traditional Chinese culture.


Practical info

An overview of the classrooms and course hours can be found below. The open courses are available for everyone both within and outside the VUB. Due to visa problems, the arrival of the teacher was delayed. As a result, the open courses will start on 6 November until the end of the semester with a last class on 19 December. This leaves 7 teaching moments for each course.

Room Overview Open Courses
    Tuesday Wednesday
    18:00-20:00 18:00-20:00
Date Week Belt & Road Modern History
05/11 - 09/11 8 F.5.207 F.5.212
12/11 - 16/11 9 F.5.207 F.5.212
19/11 - 23/11 10 - F.5.212
26/11 - 30/11 11 F.5.207 F.5.212
03/12 - 07/12 12 F.5.207 F.5.212
10/12 - 14/12 13 F.5.207 F.5.212
17/12 - 21/12 14 F.5.207 F.5.212
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