The letter below contains important information for the survey at the bottom. Please read the letter before you complete the survey. Thank you!
Dear FACES Delegates,
Greetings from FACES Beida! Next month, we will meet again in Beijing for the second leg of the FACES Annual Conference. First of all, we would like to extend a warm welcome! In order to best suit your academic interest and maximize your experience during the Conference, we would like to know your preference on two critical components of the Conference--the academic activities and the Beijing city tour.
Based on your feedback after the Stanford Session, we decided to not organize parallel forums or divide delegates into separate topic groups; instead, we design the academic activities in a way that enables all delegates to focus on the same topic at the same time. In total, there will be three topics with a series of activities (group discussions, lectures, and etc.), each of which is approximately 4 hours. You will need to submit your preference for the four topics provided below. The three most popular ones will become the topics at the Beida Session.
For the city tour, the FACES team at Beida has come up with three routes that include the best of Beijing for you to see and taste. All details are provided below. Please submit your order of preference to help us decide.
If you have any question about any information provided below, please feel free to email the FACES Beida Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Topics for Academic Activities
Topic 1: Individualism and Collectivism
At FACES, we are always trying to stay critical of any labels. We see facile generalizations and stereotypes as enemies of true U.S.-China mutual understanding. They may help us as starters in understanding one nation, but the deeper we dive, the more we need to go back to scrutinize these stereotypes and arrive at more nuanced understanding of the culture and society of a nation. That’s why we are interested in the topic: individualism and collectivism. For long many people seem to have a fixed conception that Chinese society is a collectivistic one and US individualistic. To what extent are these labels (not) valid? Is American individualism a myth? Will and to what extent will Americans defend individual over collectivity? How does individualism fit into Chinese social reality?
We hope the discussion could make delegates aware of the trap of stereotypes and empathize with the other side how it feels like to be an individual in Chinese or American society.
Through case studies and group discussion, we will help delegates assess examples of individualism and collectivism in US and China. Materials and cases from life and media will be provided for critical assessment. Personal observations and understandings are also welcome.
Topic 2: Democracy
Since ancient times, Democracy has been endlessly contemplated and pursued, by philosophers, politicians, and the people. Today it still arouses gigantic concern, contention, and confusion. In particular, much misunderstanding between the U.S. and China arise just around this issue. So here at the FACES conference, let us have a candid talk.
A wide array of issues may be discussed and debated here regarding democracy, either on the whole – the criteria and the ultimate goal of having a democracy – or more specific discussion on democratic practices in the two countries: its status quo, future development and possible ways for improvement. Either way, we hope to assess the realities of democracy in both countries, especially what democracy means in China, before we build on to compare and contrast.
Apart from discussion, we would like to organize a mild debate on questions such as “In your opinion, does China have real democracy?” Another possible activity is to simulate democratic processes in China and the U.S. in which Chinese and American delegates are presented with an issue and display the decision-making process.
Topic 3: Minorities
They used to be the deserted, disrespected and disintegrated people of our society. Peculiar, bizarre or avant-garde, whatever adjective is being used, they were human beings who simply do not fit into social norms. They are the minorities.
As minorities begin to attain a stronger influence, the story has taken a turn these years. On both sides of the Pacific Ocean, calls for respect and for equal rights are growing day by day. While we begin to accept a wider range of diversity, it has never been easy for all people to understand what they are seeing. Almost in pace with the rise of minorities comes the discrimination against them. How are minorities faring today? And how are their roles different in China and America? From the majority’s perspective, what are the impressions of the minorities? What stands do the media and the government take towards the minorities?
Value orientations and religious reasons are at the core of discrimination. How have value orientation evolved through the years? Why is religion used as an excuse to discriminate social minorities? Does the perception of minorities differ from generation to generation, in both China and America?
Videos, surveys and interviews may be carried out to promote mutual understandings on social minorities in both countries.
Topic 4: National Image and Patriotism
American government and Chinese government are both constructing their own national images, internally to their people and externally to other nations. However, good intentions do not always produce the results desired, and that is what sparked our interest. How does China perceive America as a nation? And what’s it like the other way around? While we interpret the action of another nation, are there any misconceptions? Is America, as it appears sometimes to China, a country too eager to spread its own beliefs that they engage themselves militarily in too many regional wars, or is it proliferating the spirit of freedom and democracy? Is China a country of intensive censorship and the new colonist of West Asia and Africa, as it sometimes appears to the U.S., or is it embarking on the road to prosperity and peace?
Apart from national image, there’s the controversial term “patriotism”. We have sensed that, there are different understandings of what constitutes the love for one’s own nation. Without doubt, all people hope for their nation to bring prosperity and quality of life for the citizens, and the government is tasked with this goal. However, the perception towards the government is different among people of two countries. Act of opposing governmental actions can be regarded as patriotic in U.S., however it may not happen in China.
We plan to drive this discussion through case studies such as Snowden and “Wumao Dang” in China, while supplemented with surveys and interviews.
Beijing City Tour