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Learning on Silk Roads


The Evergreen State College, USA


DR. Hirsh Diamant





History & Asian Studies




#service learning #cross-cultural learning #study abroad #curriculum development #critical pedagogies #China studies



Collaborative Partnerships and Innovative Critical Pedagogies for Studies Abroad


Students in Silk Roads academic programs, study contemporary and historical Silk Roads and envision sustainable Silk Roads of the future. For over a decade, the Evergreen Silk Roads academic programs provided opportunities for students to travel to Middle East, China, Vietnam, and Japan to experience cultures first hand and to build connections and partnerships with students, faculty, and universities abroad.



Central in the program’s work is Evergreen‘s pedagogy of bridging theory and practice. While studying abroad, Evergreen students engage in service learning; they planted trees in Xian and Inner Mongolia, mentored Vietnamese and Chinese students in American culture and English language, engaged in seminars on Dao Dejing with philosophy students at Zhejiang University, and facilitated skype academic sessions with students in Chinese universities.


The recent program shows examples of collaborative learning between students and faculty of Evergreen State College with Xing Wei College and WuYi University in China. We selected books and planning common readings and seminars between Chinese and American students for classes that took place in the Fall of 2017. This way, students were connected, even before they meet in person. By creating informal, person to person connections between students and faculty that can last even after our program of 2017-2018 is completed, we can build bridges of cross-cultural communication, friendship, and empathy that will foster a better education for the future.


These experimental programs have led to successful assignments and lessons for teaching methodologies, which can be inspirations for other study abroad courses.



  1. Literature: Diamant, Hirsh. “Silk Roads, Service Learning, and Mythmaking” in Teaching The Silk Road, A Guide for College Teachers, SUNY Press, 2010.

  2. View a sample of student work from the quarter here: Re-Imagining the Body, 2020.

  3. Course website: Tai Ji (Tai Chi) Philosophy and Practice - Summer 2020

  4. Course website: Re-Imagining the Body - Spring 2020

  5. Article: Experiences of Skyping with Students in China



Cover artwork by Kayleigh Faur.

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