Breaking Down Barriers

Fulbright Scholar Prof. Bruce Larson teaches the promises and pitfalls of democracy in China

China is a nation undergoing extraordinary change. Its economy has grown significantly over the past two decades, yet corruption and a growing wealth disparity is testing the patience of many Chinese citizens.

Could these challenges spur a new era of Chinese governance? If so, what role does the United States play in educating China’s next generation of leaders about the promises and pitfalls of representative institutions?

LarsonAs a Fulbright Scholar in China this semester, Gettysburg College Associate Professor of Political Science Bruce Larson is tackling these questions at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing and at other universities throughout the nation. His courses—one on the U.S. Congress and the other on U.S. public policy—echo the theme of political reform.

“My primary pedagogical aim is to give my Chinese students a deep understanding of representative government and politics in the United States,” Larson said. “More broadly speaking, my hope is that teaching in China will help me enhance a cross-cultural exchange between China and the U.S. that is already occurring.”

Larson is dedicated to preparing his Chinese students for the academic and cultural transition many of them will face when pursuing degrees from top American colleges and universities, like Gettysburg. This drive may stem from the bright future he desired for his own daughter, Lily, when he and his wife adopted her from a Chinese orphanage in 2002.

“She is traveling with us and is looking forward to the opportunity to work with children in these orphanages,” Larson said of Lily, now 12. “We have a deep personal connection to this [volunteer] work since we adopted our daughter.”

LarsonClassAlthough Larson will be giving back to the Chinese people, both in and out of the classroom, he hopes that by the end of his stay, he can also receive some valuable insights from them to bring back to Gettysburg.

“As with other institutions, Gettysburg College has enrolled a growing number of students from China. A semester in China will ideally help me to understand and connect with these students and to improve their experience in the U.S.”

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Mike Baker, assistant director of communications, 717.337.6521.

Posted: Wed, 18 Sep 2013

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