Journalism and Urbanization

Summer ~ Semester ~ Academic Year

The world is currently undergoing an unprecedented wave of urbanization. At a speed unseen in human history, China added more city-dwellers in the 1980s than did all of Europe in the 19th century. This phenomenal rate of urbanization continues unabated to this present day. At the center of this phenomenon is the emergence of Shanghai as one of the most heralded examples of the world’s new megacities. Few cities have captured the world’s imagination and admiration as Shanghai has. The city not only encapsulates the current great urban transformation, for many it also serves as a model of economic development and a symbol of prosperity for other developing countries to emulate.

A focus on urbanization through the lens of Shanghai allows us to raise at once a host of pressing questions related to China’s path of development, the lessons to be learned for other developing societies, and the shape of our common future. The curriculum will raise questions of sustainability, poverty reduction, civil society, internal migration, the role of women and changing societal values.

To engage these issues, the Lexia in Shanghai Journalism and Urbanization program emphasizes a cross-disciplinary approach and draws on journalistic perspectives to help students grasp the historical, social, and cultural context of China as well as give them an understanding of the broader issues of the field.


"The excursions were very intriguing and exciting. They helped us to bond quickly as a group as we partook in our new environment."


Program Options

Students on the Lexia Shanghai Journalism and Urbanization program can choose whether to study abroad for a five-week summer term, a semester, or the academic year. When deciding how long to study abroad, students should consult their academic advisor, financial aid counselor, study abroad office and their family. Lexia staff can assist students with this decision. A list of courses and course descriptions can be found below:


Summer Program

Students on the Lexia Shanghai Journalism and Urbanization summer program take two courses for a total of 8 semester credits or 12 quarter credits. 

  • Media and Journalism Seminar
  • Mandarin Language Course


Semester Program

Students on the Lexia Shanghai Journalism and Urbanization semester program take five courses for a total of 16 semester credits or 24 quarter credits. 

  • Modern China Seminar
  • Media and Journalism Seminar
  • Mandarin Language Course
  • Elective Courses
  • Independent Study


Academic Year

Students on the Lexia Shanghai Journalism and Urbanization academic year program take nine courses during two semesters for a total of 32 semester credits or 48 quarter credits. 

Students on academic year programs complete the regular semester program described above during the first semester. In the second semester, students continue language training and their Field Research Project and choose two Elective Courses to complete their academic program. Key to a second semester in Shanghai is designing a program of study that immerses the student in the local culture via language study, internship or volunteer experiences, course work, and independent study and projects. Students are also encouraged to consider spending the spring semester at a different Lexia site, conducting a comparative or complementary Field Research Project. 

Semester 1

  • Modern China Seminar
  • Media and Journalism Seminar
  • Mandarin Language Course
  • Elective Courses
  • Independent Study

Semester 2

  • Field Research Project
  • Mandarin Language Course
  • Elective Course 1
  • Elective Course 2



Modern China Seminar (Four semester/six quarter credits) 

A semester-long course titled Modern China Under Construction: Local, National, and Global Perspectives, forms the academic foundation of the Journalism & Urbanization program. Throughout the semester, students read deeply across a wide range of disciplines, hear lectures from local experts, engage in field projects throughout the city, and undertake excursions that highlight the current rural-urban transition in China.  One of the key aims of this course is to provide students with the requisite historical, social, and cultural context to understand Shanghai’s place within China’s development and urbanization.  The second aim of the course is to address some of the key issues facing Chinese urbanization through a three-fold approach.  In addition to the national perspective (the usual perspective of a traditional classroom course on China), this course takes advantage of the study abroad experience to incorporate local and global perspectives. Students will take advantage of being located in Shanghai to examine the development of one of the world’s showcase megacities and to shed light on the importance of local variations for our understanding of the complex and often contentious nature of change occurring in China today.  Furthermore, this course seeks to integrate the inherently trans-cultural nature of the study abroad experience with an exploration of how the issues facing China are intimately tied to the larger global community.  This type of approach yields a much more nuanced understanding of China’s urban development as it allows us to explore the ways in which this country looks same/different as we shift perspectives.

This course is inter-disciplinary in nature and combines lectures, discussions, as well as fieldwork.  Each week, the instructor will provide necessary background information and discussions will pay particular attention understanding the issue from the perspectives mentioned above.  This course also incorporates a fieldwork dimension to exploit our natural advantage of being in China.  Students are given regular field projects that help to make local friends, learn from the perspective of media experts, explore lesser-known parts of the city, and even learn from the perspective of ethnic minorities (via our learning excursion) far away from—both in terms of location and culture—the centers of Han Chinese urban society.


Media and Journalism Seminar (Four semester/six quarter credits)

Media and journalism are a distinctive feature of the curriculum.  Lexia's partnership with Shanghai media insider John Lu gives students access to a wide range of resources within the city as they explore issues and perspectives in urbanization.  Journalistic and media perspectives are an integral part of student coursework (including the Modern China course) and play a particularly important role in student fieldwork, bringing them into direct contact with local experts who can provide a unique understanding to Shanghai and its changes during the reform period. 

Furthermore, developments in the realms of journalistic and online media have played a fundamental role in the rise of China’s new urban culture.  Students interested in pursuing academic and professional work in the field of journalism and media are given the opportunity to take the course Media and Society in Contemporary China (three credits).  Depending on student background and previous work experience, internship opportunities are also available on a competitive basis.


Mandarin Language Course (Four semester/six quarter credits)

Mandarin language courses are taught at the elementary, intermediate, or advanced levels with other international students.


Elective Courses (Four semester/six quarter credits)

In addition to courses available through the host university, the following elective courses are also available to students.  Each course is four credits.

  • Media and Society in Contemporary China
  • China and Civil Society
  • Chinese Cinema: The Urban Generation
  • Modern Chinese History: 1840-Present
  • U.S.-Sino Relations, Past and Present
  • Chinese Political Economy Since 1978
  • Women in Chinese Society
  • Chinese Philosophical Traditions


Independent Study (Four semester/six quarter credits)

This involves approximately 120 hours of work, including consultations with the resident director and project advisor, independent reading, field learning, and the preparation of a final essay (4000-6000 words). The independent study project culminates in an oral presentation called Perspectives on the Urban Shanghai (with a subtitle and specific topic chosen by the student in consultation with the resident director and project advisor.) Highly successful and final essays may be selected for publication.


Dates & Deadlines

Coming soon!


Dormitories: Students live in dormitories at Fudan University, sharing clean and well-maintained accommodations with other international students and Lexia participants. Double rooms with adjoining bathrooms and shared kitchens are available.



The program fee covers all Lexia excursions, which are designed to help students discover areas and aspects of culture that are typically less easily accessible to tourists and give a broad representation of the breadth of Chinese culture and its people. Excursions outside of Shanghai may include some of the following:

Beijing: Political and cultural capital of China

Xi’an: Eastern terminus of the Silk Road; Home to the Terracotta Army

Hangzhou: Former capital of the Southern Song Dynasty; Southern end of the Grand canal of China; Known for beautiful West Lake and rapidly developing economy

Yellow Mountain: UNESCO World Heritage site; Famous for temples and stone steps

Nanjing: Sub-provincial city with jurisdictional and economic autonomy

Suzhou: Known as Venice of the East; Classical gardens are a UNESCO World Heritage site


Integrated into some of the courses, excursions in and around Shanghai are an essential part of the Lexia program. These field trips can include:

  • The Bund
  • The City God Temple
  • Yuyuan Garden
  • The Shanghai Museum of Art and History
  • The Shanghai Art Museum
  • Fuxing Park

The Lexia staff assists students in adjusting to and interacting with the local culture. Students are encouraged to attend extracurricular events and to become involved in volunteer activities during the program. Students with particular extracurricular interests should alert the Resident Director once abroad, so that s/he may help the student become involved. The program staff may also inform students of additional cultural events and independent travel opportunities available.



Semester: $14,950
Tuition: $12,550
Housing: $2,400

Academic Year: $26,950
Tuition: $22,150
Housing: $4,800

Summer: $5,495
Tuition: $4,295
Housing: $1,200


Program Fees Include:

  • On-Site Orientation (2-4 days)
  • All Tuition and Fees
  • All Scheduled Program Excursions
  • Housing Costs
  • Services of Lexia Resident Director and Program Staff
  • Comprehensive Medical Insurance Policy
  • International Student Identity Card (ISIC)
  • Official Transcript from Elizabethtown College



Not included in the Program Fee are the following estimated expenses based past students' experiences during the semester-long program:

  • Airfare Ranges from $1,000–$1,500
  • Meals not Covered $750
  • Books & Supplies $100
  • Personal Expenses $800
  • Inoculations $75 (optional, but recommended)
  • Chinese Visa Expenses $100

Estimated Total Additional Expenses: $2,825 – $3,325

Students should also remember to budget for independent travel during the one-week break within the semester.  If desired, students may choose to remain in their Lexia accommodation in Shanghai during the break at no additional cost.



The typical course load is four courses per semester. Students who successfully complete Lexia’s program requirements are able to earn the equivalent of one full semester or academic year of college/university level credit, pending approval from their home institution.

It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of the credit transfer policies at his/her home institution and department, including advising appointments, paperwork and pre-departure or re-entry activities. We strongly suggest that students contact their study abroad or other appropriate office early in the planning stage to ensure that they complete all requirements. 


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