Creating Modern China: The Republican Period to the Present

The birth of modern China

Join Harvard University faculty to explore the birth of modern China with a focus on the time between the fall of the Qing and the end of World War II.

Featuring faculty from:
15 weeks
1-3 hours per week
Certificate Price
Program Dates
Start Creating Modern China today.

What You'll Learn

What does it mean to be modern? What constitutes modern politics, modern institutions, a modern military, and modern infrastructure? In this period of great excitement and experimentation, the country is asking itself: How do you become modern and remain true to the Chinese national identity?

This course will explore enduring issues around Chinese modernity, with a focus on the creation of the modern Chinese state during the Republican era. You’ll learn about China’s war against Japan, about long-term patterns in U.S.-China relations, and about the role of individual leaders against the backdrop of historical circumstance.

Ultimately, you’ll learn different ways to study and understand history. We explore this period thematically rather than chronologically, providing you with a better understanding of how political context influences the interpretation of history.

The course will be delivered via edX and connect learners around the world. By the end of the course, participants will learn:

  • What were the foreign models for a Chinese republic?
  • How the modern Chinese state was built on the ruins of the previous empire.
  • The impact of China’s war against Japan.
  • How China’s relationship with the U.S. follows established patterns.
  • The role of leaders like Sun Yat-sen, Chiang Kai-shek, and Mao Zedong.

Your Instructors

Peter K. Bol Photo

Peter K. Bol

Charles H. Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations 
at Harvard University
Read full bio.

 William C. Kirby Headshot

William C. Kirby

T. M. Chang Professor of China Studies
at Harvard University
Read full bio.

Ways to take this course

When you enroll in this course, you will have the option of pursuing a Verified Certificate or Auditing the Course.

A Verified Certificate costs $149 and provides unlimited access to full course materials, activities, tests, and forums. At the end of the course, learners who earn a passing grade can receive a certificate. 

Alternatively, learners can Audit the course for free and have access to select course material, activities, tests, and forums. Please note that this track does not offer a certificate for learners who earn a passing grade.

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