Area Studies and Study Abroad: The Chinese Experience
Area studies can play a constructive role in preparing students for study abroad when it stays away from addressing questions of culture. Factual information about the geography, demographic trends, or economic and political machinery operating in another part of the world can be an asset in the effort to maximize the educational potential of a period of study abroad. Too often, however, area studies inquiries are concerned with comparisons, and with theoretical speculation on the reasons for differences between countries and peoples. For many undergraduate students the subjective and tentative products of inquiries into cultural differences often take on the appearance of objective and scientific facts that students then use to resolve intercultural problems.
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