LSe-PKU Summer school
In addition to my primary teaching responsibilities in London, every August I teach a two-week intensive course at the LSE-Peking University Summer School in Beijing. For the last several years I’ve taught a course focusing on the development of NGOs in China. In 2019, in light of my new large-scale research projects, I will launch an exciting new course called “Policy Innovation in Contemporary China: From 'Big Society' to Social Credit Scores.”
The course will introduce students to the ways in which China (and other countries worldwide) have developed, tested, and implemented a wide range of macro and micro level policy innovations to deal with emerging social problems that are often an unintended side effect of rapid economic development.
The course uses tried and tested innovations, like the ‘big society’, and brand new ones, such as the Social Credit system set to launch in 2020, as lenses through which students explore key questions: How do states organise and manage societies? Why are some policy innovations employed over others? How can states, societies, and markets work in cooperation to address pressing social problems? How successful are these schemes, and how might they differently affect particular groups? And, how can we anticipate (and potentially minimise) the unintended effects of planned social management policies?
The first half of the course historically contextualises ‘big society,’ using it as a case study to examine key actors in social management: the decentralised state, bureaucrats, and local politics; NGOs and social organisations; the family as fundamental unit of society; and the market. The second half introduces the latest policy innovation in China, the Social Credit system—a private sector-inspired innovation (think: Uber ratings) in which citizens are awarded points for good behaviour and deducted for bad, with the overall goal of making citizens ‘better’ and governance easier. In the following days, we highlight some key areas that Social Credit is designed to improve and in so doing, we also examine potential unintended, negative consequences.
Throughout the course, we draw upon a number of empirical examples including demographic challenges, family planning policies, elder care, health care, environmental protection, gender equality, and sexuality—paying particular attention to the most vulnerable in society, and those who are frequently ‘unseen’ by states in social management schemes. This course draws upon literature from a variety of fields, including political science, sociology, economics, public health, psychology, and social policy.
The course exemplifies the best of my research-led teaching: lectures draw directly from my extensive research and published works on state-society relations; students will gain an intimate look at the research process, learning in part from brand new findings from my ongoing research into the effect of policy innovations like Social Credit on notions of citizenship, trust, and loyalty in China. The course also demonstrates the high value I place on teaching-led research: with the study of policy innovation and social management still relatively new, there remain many unasked, and unanswered, questions.
While the course is designed for advanced undergraduates and postgrads, we invite all to apply. In the past, the class has included students who recently completed their bachelors degrees, those beginning master's studies, doctoral students, and mid-career professionals in government, law, and business.
In Beijing I will be once again assisted by my incredibly talented PhD student Jessica Ng who is currently engaged in comparative research on NGO development and organisational evolution. In her four years at the summer school, Jess has consistently received some of the highest teaching assistant evaluations and is a favourite of my students.
To learn more and apply
Alumni have shared their impressions of my previous summer school course:
"As a professional working with NGOs and social enterprises, I would highly recommend this course to anyone including other professionals seeking to gain an understanding of the economic and political context in which these organisations work in China. Dr Hildebrandt was an expert facilitator and his cross-cultural and first-hand experience really brought out the fascinating different perspectives in the classroom. Being with classmates from around the world was a real highlight and enhanced the immersive experience of the course." Jon Cheung, Principal Prolegis Lawyers, Australia
“From NGOs to Social Enterprises: Chinese Social Organizations in Local and Global Governance surpassed all my expectations for a short summer course on such a complex topic and prepared me for my subsequent master’s degree in the field of public administration. The breadth and depth of work covered by both Professor Hildebrandt and our tremendously talented TA, was astounding given the compressed time frame. Professor Hildebrandt’s interactive seminar style of teaching was most conducive to the pace of the program and promoted inter-student learning, which was particularly beneficial given the diversity of perspectives and experiences of students in the program. His subject matter expertise in the field of social organizations in the Chinese context also cannot be understated, and it was truly a tremendous privilege to learn from him on this ever-evolving topic. Moreover, the ability of both Professor and TA to convey complex theories to a class with varying levels of knowledge about the topic and associated literature was remarkable. Regardless of your academic and professional background, students can expect to leave the class with a strong understanding of theories and literature from many disciplines including sociology, international relations, and political science; as they relate to the workings of NGOs and social enterprises in the Chinese context. I would highly recommend this class to anyone remotely interested in learning more about NGOs, the Chinese economic and political context, or LGBT rights; you will not be disappointed. Like most exceptional classes, be prepared to leave with more unanswered questions and to truly broaden the scope of your thinking in relation to the topic and China!” Jadey Huray, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, USA
"This course was specifically designed for satisfying students’ needs to explore the function of NGOs including but not limited to the Chinese perspective. It discovered the roles of NGOs in the development of civil society, which fascinated students by providing a complete outline of recent scholarship in this field. It personally expanded my horizons to understand the state of the Chinese polity not only from the view of NGOs, but also from some of the unusual issues in China such as LGBT. I think the unique methodology and a comparative global perspective from this course prepare me well to connect my own research in social history and Dr Hildebrandt’s research. Both the lectures from Dr Hildebrandt and the Teaching Assistant were inspiring and interacting. ." Junyi Zhang (Simon), Nankai University, China