Spring 2025 | Asia, Africa, and Europe Exploration

HIST 466 U.S.-China Relations Since 1800

Overview of Course

There is no more important bilateral relationship in the 21st century than that between the United States and China. Every region of the globe—and every port of call in this Semester at Sea voyage—is affected by the conduct of U.S.-China relations. If the world’s two largest superpowers can learn to collaborate, the chances of addressing some of the international community’s most pressing challenges will be greatly increased. If the United States and China drift toward conflict, however, then the consequences for humanity could be catastrophic. This course covers the history of U.S.-China relations from 1800 to the present day with a view to better understanding the past, present, and future of this critical relationship. Students will study landmark events such as the Boxer Rebellion, World War II, the Korean War, the Taiwan Straits Crises, the normalization of U.S.-China diplomatic ties, the Tiananmen Square incident, and the recent experience of the Covid-19 pandemic. The class will explore how relations between the United States and China have shaped the everyday lives of ordinary people in both countries, as well as how U.S.-China relations have exerted an outsized influence on the course of world-historical development. An experiential Field Class will analyze the concrete impact of U.S.-China relations in an affected third country. In short, this is a class on how the United States and China have made the modern world, and what sort of world they might make next.