The Five HNC Concentrations

The Five HNC Concentrations

So, you've started your Hopkins-Nanjing Center studies and the thought of choosing a concentration is making you feel a bit overwhelmed. You’re not alone – nearly every student has probably gone through the initial panic of “What is a concentration? What should I choose? What if I am interested in many different things?” Feeling a bit intimidated at first is natural, but this guide to the various concentrations will hopefully help you make the best decision possible for your academic and professional career. 

Choosing classes for your first term at the HNC is certainly fun, but it can also be daunting. For many incoming students, the HNC curriculum offers more interesting courses than can possibly fit in even the most ambitious schedule. And, while the HNC encourages an interdisciplinary approach, including an expectation of taking some courses outside one's own concentration, MAIS students must choose a concentration by the end of their first semester. This can be one of five fields: International Politics, Comparative and International Law, International Economics, Chinese Studies, and Energy Resources, and Environment (ERE).
So how do you pick? What even is each concentration? 
International Politics
Curious about how China’s government interacts with governments of other countries and other international entities? Interested in the top security issues that officials are working to solve? Want to learn about policymaking in a domestic and international context? The international politics concentration includes both domestic politics of different countries and international relations. In covering US-China international relations, it explores the different contemporary problems, tensions, and landscapes that the two countries must face. In this concentration, you will be required to take courses like Comparative Politics and Contemporary International Politics that have a strong basis in theory. 
Aside from these required courses, the concentration offers seminars on US-China Relations from both the American and Chinese perspectives, an Islamic Fundamentalism course, and several courses on the concepts, issues, and strategies in security – including traditional and new security studies. If Chinese politics is more your thing, this concentration still has plenty of other courses to offer, such as Contemporary Chinese Foreign Policy and Chinese Government and Politics. If you are looking to branch out beyond Sino-US relations, courses like International Organizations and Global Governance, Perspectives on Globalization, and Environment and Development in Africa will be right up your alley. 
Comparative and International Law 

Thinking about pursuing a career in the legal field? Love poring over long documents? Or just curious about the law-making system in China? The Comparative and International Law concentration starts your journey with a pairing of courses on the History and Philosophy of Law in the West and in China respectively. For the more internationally oriented, courses like Corruption and Anti-Corruption Strategies, Legal Foundations of International Relations, International Law, Comparative Sino-US Investment Law, Comparative Sino-US Legal Cultures and International Business Law will introduce you to plenty of the behind-the-scenes dynamics of international relations and cross-border legality. If you are looking in depth at China, there are plenty of courses to familiarize you with the Chinese Constitution and Chinese criminal, commercial, and economic law. Of course, anyone looking to pursue a career in the legal field cannot avoid the ethics behind it, or new developments that affect our current legal framework. Thus, courses like Technology and Law, Injustices, Discrimination and Identity, and International Dispute Resolution tackle the hard questions about ethical and practical challenges. 
International Economics 

Are you a math and economic modeling whiz? Love exploring how money moves? If numbers and data are your thing, this concentration will give you free rein in developing your skill set. In the international economics concentration, you can explore China’s relationship with the United States and the rest of the world through an economic lens. You will take foundational courses like International Trade Theory and Policy, International Monetary Theory and Policy, Statistics and Econometrics. On a broad level, you will have the chance to compare Chinese and US economies, learn how to analyze and/or predict financial crises, and gain an understanding of economic development. If the theoretical appeals to you, you can take courses in Micro and Macroeconomics, Game Theory, and Strategy. If you are more interested in the corporate sector, Introduction to Finance and Corporate Finance are the courses for you. This concentration is definitely not the only path into a career in the finance sector, but it will leave you with expertise on China’s economic development, the US-China trade relationship, and broader global economic trends. Now imagine all that in Mandarin – with that kind of linguistic skill, you’ll be ready for a top-notch job wherever you go. 
Energy, Resources and Environment (ERE) 

Are you all about the environmental challenges that the whole world is facing? In this concentration, you will first take an Introduction to Energy, Resources, and the Environment. In the spring, you’ll also have to take Global Environment Fundamentals and ERE Economics, as energy and resources are a key part of economic relationships. Then, depending on your personal research interest, you will be able to explore policy and analytical instruments in fields like Pollution Control, Energy Technology, Environmental and Resource Management and Water Politics. The geographic span of this concentration is also large, with courses on China’s Development and Environment, Environment and Development in Africa, and Challenges in the Global Environment. The current debates on Energy, Resources, and the Environment are many, and the topic will only continue to gain international attention in the coming years. Whether your focus is preventing and mitigating climate change, managing natural resources, or simply learning about how the environment fits into our daily political, social, and economic activities, this concentration will definitely satisfy all your environment needs and make you well-prepared for a career in relevant fields. 
Chinese Studies 

Last but certainly not least is the Chinese Studies concentration. If you do not choose this as your primary focus, you will have to minor in it, so don’t worry about missing out on all the great courses! Courses like Social Issues of China’s Modernization and Chinese History since 1949 feature on the required list for this concentration. Other research areas span a wide array of Chinese social life and customs. For example, students can take Anthropology classes, a course on contemporary Chinese film, society, and culture, explore traditional Chinese arts, and analyze religious systems in China. One particularly popular class is Ethnic Minorities in Chinese Society, and a recent addition has been the Urban Governance in China course. All of these courses, while looking at the social, also interact with their relevant political, economic, and legal environments, and introduce students to analytical tools and interpretations of Chinese life that may not be completely obvious without a careful consideration of their emergence and social context. For those looking beyond China, Chinese and Americans: A Cross-Cultural Dialogue brings Chinese and international students together into a joint discussion on various issues. 
When picking a concentration, it is important to remember that you must take at least six courses in your major concentration to fulfill the requirements. Carefully look at course lists when they come out, and make sure at least six of your proposed concentration classes will appeal to you. 

If you have more than one interest, this is also not a cause for concern. Many courses may fall within multiple concentrations, and even if they don’t, you will have plenty of opportunities to explore topics beyond your declared concentration while fulfilling all your graduation requirements. Listen to your academic and professional calling – pick something that interests you! 
And finally, remember that there is no wrong answer. Professors from each concentration are experts in their field with many years of teaching experience. They are some of the most passionate individuals you will see, and you will certainly be inspired by many of them. Furthermore, the HNC community is small and tight-knit, so you are sure to find people around you who share similar interests, while you also discover your own unique niche during your graduate studies. 
Good Luck! 
Written by Kalina Pateva