Students` Research Supports Discovery Channel

Susanna Lee, Maxim Astashinsky, and Cynthia Li

Susanna Lee, Maxim Astashinsky, and Cynthia Li

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The People’s Republic of China — its culture, food, economy and politics — is the focus of a unique Dyson student/faculty research project with the New York Times. Students are researching and annotating New York Times articles for a companion Web site to the Discovery Channel’s “China Rises” four-part television documentary series, which aired this spring and will air again this summer.

Dyson associate professor of history Joseph Lee explains. “We are creating an historical timeline, beginning in 1949, based on articles published in the New York Times that relate to the topics covered in the ‘China Rises’ documentary for the companion Web site. Using the New York Times archival and current databases in Pace’s library, students are researching writings on many topics, such as the end of the Cultural Revolution and the one-child policy in China. Our students are finding, summarizing, and annotating the articles published from 1949 to the present, which will form one anchor of the educational Web site.”

Student researchers Cynthia Li, Maxim Astashinsky, and Susanna Lee have been working on the project with Dyson associate professors of history Ron Frank and Joseph Lee since January. “Students are not only gaining valuable research skills, but also analytical, writing and critical thinking skills,” says Frank.

By working on this research project, these students agree that they are learning a great deal more about China’s culture and history than they would otherwise have learned without this access.

“It’s been fascinating to learn so deeply about the topics we’ve been researching and to sharpen my research skills,” says history major Maxim Astashinsky.

History major Cynthia Li says, “It’s been very interesting to see through the lens of past writings how China was perceived, especially in editorials and popular culture columns.”

“I have been interested in gaining a better understanding about my own Chinese culture and identity, and this project has helped me to do that,” says East Asian Studies minor Susanna Lee.

A Significant Electronic Resource
An educational resource, the Web site will provide curriculum development ideas and resources for teachers and students, or for anyone interested in learning more about China. Each topic is treated as an electronic educational unit, and will link to the articles that our students discovered. “This Web site is significant because the New York Times is the first international media house to create an Internet-based educational resource about China for educators, and we are proud to have been invited to contribute to its development,” says Lee.

The timeline and database components will be launched by June on the Web site: www.nytimes.com/chinarises.