Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The World in Transition

The SAIS Review of International Affairs journal is published twice yearly by the Foreign Policy Institute, a research center of The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

"The World in Transition," the 23rd edition of The SAIS Review, will be released next week.  HNC Five-Semester Option student Katie Lebling's photo essay "Many Chinas: An Excursion into the Heart of Xinjiang" will be featured.

In addition, check out some recent articles on the SAIS Review website by HNC students and alumni:

Will China's Leadership Transition Lead to a New Cross-Strait Policy? By HNC Five-Semester Option student Christina Garafola and SAIS alumnus Bao-chiun "Jingbo" Jing

Xi Jinping and the Challenges of Chinese Leadership By HNC MAIS alumnus Bernard Geoxavier

To read more, check out The SAIS Review website or follow them on Twitter.  And while you're at it, become a follower of the HNC on Twitter too!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Students Gear Up for Spring Semester

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center re-opened this week after the Chinese New Year break. Students are once again getting settled into Center life, and will start shopping for spring semester classes which begin on Monday. Below is a sample of courses that will be offered this semester:

Courses Taught in Chinese:
  • Nuclear Weapon and Nuclear Strategy (核武器与核战略研究)
  • Chinese Criminal Law (中国刑法)
  • Game Theory (博弈论)
  • Ethnic Minorities in Chinese Society ( 少数民族与中国社会)
  • Mao Zedong's Life and Thought (毛泽东生平与思想) 
Courses Taught in English:
  • Asian Energy Security
  • International Dispute Resolution
  • Comparative Economies: U.S. & China
  • International Relations of the Asia-Pacific
  • Mapping Chinese and American Mindsets

Friday, February 15, 2013

Five-Semester Student Takes Conflict Management Studies Outside the Classroom

Many Five-Semester Option students choose to concentrate in China Studies during their three semesters in the MA program at SAIS in Washington, DC.  A growing number, however, are focusing on other regions or areas of study to supplement the coursework taken during their year in the Certificate program at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.

Kaelyn Lowmaster is a current Five-Semester Option student concentrating in both China Studies and Conflict Management.  Read about her experience on the annual Conflict Management field research trip:

Kaelyn in Baku
"There’s no better training ground for China hands than the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, so when I came to SAIS for the DC leg of my five-semester option program, I was excited to broaden my academic focus and apply what I learned in Nanjing to different regions and disciplines.  I added a second concentration in Conflict Management to my primary one of China Studies, expecting to research China’s diplomatic behavior around the world.  I could not have anticipated that my study of international negotiations would lead me to active conflict regions thousands of miles from both Nanjing and DC.

One of the great perks of the Conflict Management program is the annual field research trip.  Each year, a few students have the opportunity to study regions experiencing active conflict firsthand over winter break.  We meet people at all levels, from high-level officials to students, affected by protracted disputes.  This year, fifteen of my classmates and I headed to the Caucasus to research the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh (NK).  A semester’s worth of briefings at SAIS had taught me the basics:  NK was a majority ethnic Armenian enclave within the Azerbaijani SSR, when in 1988 it petitioned to be moved to the jurisdiction of the Armenian SSR.  Tensions escalated into bloody pogroms, and eventually to all-out war after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  The conflict has been 'frozen' since a cease-fire in 1994 – Armenia had won the war, but there continue to be a few dozen deaths a year along the line of contact.  No one quite knows what might happen if widespread hostilities broke out once again, but there’s not much optimism about the current course of negotiations, either.

Each of us had picked a particular aspect of the conflict to study, and I decided that I’d look at the mediation process.  Before landing in Baku, I’d read all the diplomatic jargon of  the stalemate in the latest press releases (for a frustrating read, you can find them all here), and had thought I was ready to present a fresh perspective on how to move negotiations forward.

Old City Baku with the newly-constructed flame towers
I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelmingly complex reality of the conflict on the ground, though.  We started in Baku, Azerbaijan’s oil-soaked capital, where newly constructed flame-shaped skyscrapers dwarf the old city.  There we heard of Armenia’s illegal occupation of NK and the surrounding territories, that international law is on the side of Azerbaijan, that Armenia is a Russian puppet state.  After three days, we made our way to Armenia for the other side of the narrative.  The drive from Baku to Yerevan, a geographical distance of only about 280 miles, takes about 12 hours to complete.  Borders are closed, flights are grounded, and the only way from one to another takes a bus, two border crossings, and a brief swing through Georgia.  In Armenia the refrain of distrust was familiar – that Azerbaijan’s oil wealth had made it warlike, that Armenia needs the territories surrounding NK to guarantee its security, and that ethnic Armenians in NK had a fundamental right to self-determination.

The view into Nagorno-Karabakh from the Armenian side
The only ray of optimism came from the refugee groups we met with on both sides.  'They were our neighbors…we just want to go home,' one Azerbaijani woman displaced from NK by the war told us.  'Tell them we want to live in peace.'  On the last day of our trip, an Armenian mother who had lost her son and nephews in the war told us to bring her message to the mothers of Azerbaijan, 'that we understand their pain.'

Iconic statue of a Karabakhi man and woman
In international relations, it’s easy to view problems in abstract terms, looking for tradeoffs that can be made or theoretical strategies that can be applied.  But sitting in a one-room apartment that housed nine refugees the day after meeting with the foreign minister of Armenia has a way of changing one’s perspective.  For the first time I was faced with the very human responsibility of negotiators, something that’s often lost in high-level deal-making.  I hope that, at some level, our trip to the region will eventually have some small positive impact on the peace process, but in the meantime it definitely made each of us better students of conflict management."

Friday, February 8, 2013

Happy Year of the Snake!

On Monday, the Hopkins-Nanjing Center Washington Support Office and SAIS China Studies co-hosted a Chinese New Year reception in Washington, DC.  Faculty, staff, students, and alumni gathered together to celebrate the Year of the Snake.  
Guests enjoyed dumplings and reuniting with classmates.

Professor David Lampton gave remarks.
HNC MAIS, Five-Semester, and Certificate alumni had the chance to reconnect

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Admissions Update and Year of the Snake

We in the admissions office are busy this week processing applications after the February 1 application deadline.  Thanks to all those who applied!  Decision notifications will be sent by mid-March but please do not hesitate to contact us if you have an questions before then.  In the meantime, check out MAIS student Natalie Sammarco's update from halfway through the mid-year Chinese New Year break below.  Later this week we'll also post pictures from last night's reception in DC hosted by HNC and SAIS China Studies celebrating the Year of the Snake!

"We are a month into the New Year and on winter break! The beginning of January was a whirlwind of papers and exams, but students still found time to celebrate in style as January 1st brought in 2013. This time is very special for HNC because it is a time of year when most students’ families are lavish in holiday dinner and remembering family. We, at the Center, seem like islands, each one of us missing home and our usual holiday traditions to be here, in China. While others are going about their usual holiday routines, we are doing our usual routines of going to classes and taking tests. Although we don’t have class on Christmas or New Year’s day, it’s still tough to just have a one day holiday when most of us are used to a bit longer.

During this time, the response from many people who miss home is to band together, creating a celebration all students, both Chinese and international, can enjoy. This year’s Christmas party featured homemade egg nog, Christmas stories, a reading of The Night Before Christmas, renditions of Christmas carols by the group of classmates who are taking the ‘erhu’ elective course (it was pretty impressive, hearing jingle bells on 10 erhus -- a real melding of cultures!), and much more singing and cheer. I have to admit, it’s hard to be sad about missing holidays at home when so many people are there to help you celebrate in your own little way.

Now that we are midway through break (a much needed one), it’s time to start thinking about the upcoming semester. I have gone back to the US for break but many classmates chose to stay in China or travel around Asia. We get 6 weeks of break to do with what we choose and that is the perfect amount of time to rest, recharge, and reboot our systems so that we are ready to hit the ground running when classes resume on February 25th.

Happy New Year and we’ll see you soon!"

Friday, February 1, 2013

Application Deadline is Today!

Today (11:59pm) is our deadline for the Hopkins-Nanjing Center Certificate and M.A.I.S. programs! For those of you still working on your applications, feel free to contact our office for any last-minute questions. If you happen to be missing any required documents, our office will notify you early next week. Good luck, hit the submit button, and enjoy Super Bowl Sunday!