HIS 350: Contemporary China

Course Description

China’s Cultural Revolution was a violent mass movement which drastically affected the lives of all who lived through it.  Through eye witness accounts, government memos, political cartoons and other primary source documents, this course will focus on the major events that led to Mao Zedong’s revolution, and issues and events that dramatically impacted Chinese society beginning in the early 20th century through present day.

This course is an approved Survey Course in Non-Western History for teacher certification in Connecticut.


  • ENG 101: English Composition 1
  • ENG 102: English Composition 2

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate critical thinking through inquiry-based discussion, interpretation of primary source materials, writing assignments, group presentations and exams.
  2. Determine how the actions of young adults and students have impacted Chinese society through analysis of primary source material and group discussion.
  3. Produce a (power-point) presentation elaborating on the long-term effects of the Cultural Revolution on China's society, economy, government and/or culture.
  4. Identify key figures and events during the 20th century and their social and economic impact on present day China.
  5. Debate the overall effectiveness of Mao Zedong's tenure through inquiry-based discussion.
  6. Critically evaluate the merits and constraints of government dictated societal policies that prevail in present day China through both written work and discussion.
  7. Understand how China's changing economic policies both directly and indirectly impact society.
  8. Measure the effectiveness of various non-violent techniques used by the Chinese government to influence its citizens during the 20th century.   
  9. Examine how the role of revolution is embedded in China's socio-political views.

General Education Outcomes (GEOs)

Please check the applicable GEOs for this course, if any, by outcomes at GEO Category Search, or by subject area at GEO Discipline Search.

Course Activities and Grading



Discussions (20 Pts, Weeks 1-8)


Writing Assignments (Weeks 1,2,4,7)


Quizzes (Weeks 3, 5)


Presentation and Peer Critiques  (Week 6)


Final Exam (Week 8)




Required Textbooks

Available through Charter Oak State College's online bookstore

  • Benson, Linda. China Since 1949. 3rd ed. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2016. ISBN-13: 978-1-138-99909-1
  • Heng, Liang and Shapiro, Judith. Son of the Revolution. First Edition. Random House, 1984. ISBN-10: 0-394-72274-4

Course Schedule



Readings and Exercises




Topic: China and Tiananmen Square


  • China Since 1949, Chapter 2
  • Son of Revolution to page 80


  • Watch “Gate of Heavenly Peace” video excerpts
  • Introduce yourself
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Carefully review Lecture material
  • Take the Practice Quiz (not graded)
  • Submit Writing Assignment: Free Speech Short Essay



Topic: Mao’s Rise To Power


  • China Since 1949 19-38 and documents 7 & 8 pp. 152-154
  • Son of Revolution, 1st 1/2
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Carefully review the Lecture material
  • Submit Writing Assignment: Mao’s Campaigns
  • Submit Power point presentation topic



Topic: The Cultural Revolution


  • China Since 1949, pages 38-46
  • Son of the Revolution
  • Review Primary Source Documents: Political Cartoon
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Carefully review the Lecture material
  • Complete Quiz (graded)
  • Begin work on presentation



Topic: Deng’s Rise to Power


  • China Since 1949, pages 47-54
  • Complete Son of the Revolution


  • Watch Harvard China-X videos regarding Deng  (parts 1 & 2)
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Carefully review the Lecture material
  • Continue work on presentation
  • Submit Writing Assignment: Son of the Revolution



Topic: Tiananmen Square Revisited


  • China Since 1949, pages 55-77
  • Review People’s Daily Editorial


  • Watch Harvard China-X videos regarding Deng  (parts 3 & 4)
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Carefully Review the Lecture material
  • Complete Quiz (graded)
  • Submit quiz



Topic: Student Presentations


  • There are no assigned readings this week.
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Submit Presentation to Instructor and class blog
  • Critique peer class presentations



Topic: China in the 21st Century


  • China Since 1949, pages 78-133
  • Read News articles (provided) 
  • Review primary source documents
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Carefully Review the Lecture material
  • Re-take the Practice Quiz (not graded)
  • Submit Mind Map Writing Assignment: Xi Mind Mapping
  • Review for exam



Topic: Final Exam


  • Review for Final Exam
  • Participate in the Discussions
  • Complete Final Exam
  • Complete Course Evaluation


COSC Accessibility Statement

Charter Oak State College encourages students with disabilities, including non-visible disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, head injury, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, or psychiatric disabilities, to discuss appropriate accommodations with the Office of Accessibility Services at OAS@charteroak.edu.

COSC Policies, Course Policies, Academic Support Services and Resources

Students are responsible for knowing all Charter Oak State College (COSC) institutional policies, course-specific policies, procedures, and available academic support services and resources. Please see COSC Policies for COSC institutional policies, and see also specific policies related to this course. See COSC Resources for information regarding available academic support services and resources.