Immersive Learning Trips

Pictures from faculty led trips to Huangshan and Hangzhou

The Office of Community Engaged Learning partners with faculty and experts to design learning trips around China. These trips connect academic topics with place-based experiential learning about the people, history, culture and environment of local communities. Check out our offerings for the semester and previous trips we went on below.  

Spring 2024:

  • March 29-April 2: Yunnan Province: Ethnicity, Religions, and History led by David Atwill (Professor of Global China Studies and Dean of Arts and Sciences) and Yurong Atwill (East Asian Studies Librarian & Coordinator of East Asian Academic Resources)

Fall 2023:

Spring 2023:

Fall 2022:

Questions? Contact



Past Trips:


Jiuhua Mountain Writing Retreat: Writing the Ephemeral Self

Jiuhua Mountain

One of the central tenets of Buddhism holds that the self is a transient entity, and that our suffering comes from our attachment to our own selves, among other attachments. The NYU Shanghai Writing Program invites students to travel to Jiuhuashan (九华山), one of China’s four holy Buddhist mountains, to participate in a writers’ retreat aimed at helping them better understand themselves in this transitory moment. The weekend will be a time for personal reflection through writing, for experimenting with poetry and other written forms, for learning about Buddhism as practiced by this community, as well as for some rigorous hiking and philosophical conversation. We expect the students who join us to be serious about this project of exploration--of the landscape, the culture, and themselves. Although there will be sufficient time for participants to explore the mountain on their own, writers will be expected to attend six mini “classes” led by NYU Shanghai faculty, which will each include reading, discussions, and guided writing prompts. 

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Qingshan Village: Art, Design, Community Engagement, and Environmental Initiatives with The Nature Conservancy

Picture of water reservoir, students with villagers and design library

Qingshan village, a 3-hour drive southwest of Shanghai in Zhejiang Province, is home to the Longwu Water Conservation Reserve, a project by The Nature Conservancy and a new model for land and water conservation in China. In this beautiful, rural, mountainous area, you will experience and learn about how environmental NGOs are working with local governments and communities to develop sustainable, ecologically responsible methods to protect the natural environment. 

Led by Assistant Arts Professor of IMA, Ann Chen, we will stay with local farmers in the village and tour projects in the village and surrounding area. We will learn about The Nature Conservancy water conservation project and land trust initiatives which will include lectures and tours of the protected water reservoir and the newly constructed nature education center built out of rammed earth, a traditional, natural building method. You will have the opportunity to visit and tour the Rong Design Library, a residency program and extensive archive of traditional Chinese crafts and materials from all over China. If time and weather permits, we will go on a hike through bamboo forests and experience the local vegetation and habitat. You will make your own bamboo basket in a traditional bamboo basket-weaving workshop. We will visit a local artist community nestled in a beautiful forested valley. Delicious vegetarian meals made from locally sourced produce will be provided.

There will be a mandatory pre-departure meeting to go over the trip logistics and also discuss some of the issues that you will be seeing and learning about on the trip.

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Beijing: Explore Contemporary Art 

pictures of students in Beijing and touring gallery

This trip is designed to provide students who are interested in contemporary art, curatorial studies, architecture, urban planning, and cultural/global studies with an insider’s look into the latest happenings in one of the world’s major centers of arts and culture. Visiting Assistant Professor of Arts Alice Wang will take students to a variety of art spaces, and speak to local arts professionals who have witnessed Beijing’s rapidly shifting urban landscape.

Over the last twenty years, Beijing’s 798 Art Zone has grown into a mega complex containing a menagerie of contemporary art spaces. Comprised of a network of decommissioned manufacturing buildings constructed during the 1950s in the city’s north eastern area of Chaoyang District, 798 — and, its neighboring suburban village Caochangdi — are considered to be the art center of Beijing. In response to the influx of commercial galleries and private museums in the area, many young artists, curators, and writers have opened up independent nonprofit art spaces in the hutongs, or narrow alleyways flanked by traditional-style buildings in the city center of Beijing. The geographical distance and architectural distinction between the 798/Caochangdi area and the hutong art spaces also mark an ideological difference that becomes the springboard for examining the current developments of contemporary art in Beijing.

There will be a mandatory pre-departure meeting to go over the trip logistics and also discuss some of the issues that you will be seeing and learning about on the trip.

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Shenzhen Trip: Design & Innovation 
Co-sponsored with the Program on Creativity + Innovation

Shenzhen Spring 2019 pictures

Shenzhen is often called "The Silicon Valley of Hardware" and is home to both a scrappy same-day startup ecosystem as well as many of the world's largest internet companies. Explore these technology, business and socio-economic ecosystems with Assistant Arts Professor Christian Grewell, co-founder of the Program on Creativity + InnovationThe three-day itinerary will explore Shenzhen as an early-stage innovation, design and manufacturing hub, allow you to understand and build actual product prototypes in the world's largest electronics market, and expose you to cutting edge companies.The trip is centered on learning through interacting with professionals, faculty, and your fellow students. To help you get the most out of the trip by strengthening your background knowledge and helping you to better understand and analyze what you see in Shenzhen, please be prepared to: 

  • Complete some useful assigned readings related to Shenzhen and its economy and write some pre-trip thoughts about your impressions of and questions about Shenzhen.

  • Attend a pre-departure meeting to meet the faculty, other students, and go over the itinerary and logistics.

  • Attend a field trip to Artops, an industrial design company in Shanghai that makes consumer electronics. You will see how professional designers make a product come alive from ideas to drawings to manufacturing prototypes.

  • Participate in a post-trip talk for the NYU Shanghai community where Professor Grewell will speak about the state of Shenzhen’s manufacturing and design field, and you and the other trip attendees will share your reflections on what you learned and experienced from this trip.

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Moganshan: Local History, Economy, and Chinese Language Practice

Moganshan(莫干山), located a 3-hour drive southwest of Shanghai, has spectacular bamboo forests, rich history, and a thriving countryside retreat industry. In this beautiful mountain area, you will experience and learn about the  transformation and modernization of villages in contemporary China, and visit historic residences that once belonged to major historical players, including Mao Zedong and Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-shek). After hiking to Sword Lake at the top of the mountain overlooking the vast bamboo forest, we will do some fruit- and tea-picking at a local farm. 

The focus of this trip is on Chinese language practice led by Chinese language lecturers Jing Chai and Jinghong Bi. The immersive trip activities are designed for you to make observations and conduct interviews in the local area, practicing your Chinese language and intercultural communication skills with non-English speakers and people from different cultural backgrounds. You will also learn new vocabulary related to the topics on the trip and improve your listening skills.

There will be a mandatory pre-departure meeting and some assigned readings to go over the trip logistics and also discuss some of the issues that you will be seeing and learning about on the trip.

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