China: The Great Wall and Beyond- Summer 2016
Location: Beijing, Hubei, Guizhou, Chongqing, Hunan, China


Gordon Tucker, PhD and Zhiwei Liu, PhD, Your Guides to Plant Usage and Culture in China.
See more photos of this exciting program!

Department: Biology

Leaders: Dr. Zhiwei Liu ( and Dr. Gordon Tucker (

: Biology

  Terms/Timeframe: May 10-30, 2016

Language: English

  Credits: 4

Budget: Summer 2016


Good Academic Standing
Good Judicial Standing

  Application Deadlines:
January 29, 2016
  Application Materials:

EIU Program Application (Faculty-led Programs)

Course Selection Form


Academic Program

Ethnobotany is an investigation of past and present human dependence on plants, emphasizing plants used as foods and medicines. This course is an on site exploration of the diverse ways in which plants form an integral part of modern China and its history. By studying how plants have been or are used in human societies, ethnobotany also gains insight into the complex relationship between plant uses and cultures. A growing interest in ethnobotany is seen since the 1990's because of pharmaceutical applications. Although chemically-synthesized drugs replaced plants as the main medicinal source in the recent history of human civilization, especially in industrialized countries, plants are again considered as a significant source of new pharmaceuticals. Industries are now interested in exploring parts of the world where plant medicine remains the predominant form of dealing with illness.

China has a rich and well documented tradition and diverse usage of plants. China provides a classic example of the incorporation of plant derived drugs in all aspects of medicine. The diverse usage of plants is also reflected in the many kinds of Chinese food that are consumed by people of various cultures around the world. China is one of the "cradles" of agriculture, the birth place of the cultivation of many important crops, including rice, millet, soybeans, and water chestnuts, and is the only undisrupted major ancient civilization in the world. Some plants find use in almost every aspect of Chinese life, such as the bamboo, a woody grass, which provides material for many uses, from construction to furniture, tools, crafts, paper, and food. Thus China is an outstanding location for the study of ethnobotany, allowing close examination of the diversity of human usages of plants, past and present, and its implications on humanity in the near future.

China’s recent emergence as a fast growing economic power provides numerous opportunities for American companies. Increasingly close ties have formed between China and the US in economic, political, and academic fields since China opened its doors to the western world two and half decades ago. This means for the university and its students tremendous opportunities, as well as a serious challenge because of the cultural differences between the two countries. The proposed course will help the students to gain an understanding of China and its people by surveying a core theme of everyday life, use of plants, and other related cultural phenomena.

"It is wonderful to observe how people on the other side of the world live, just how small your backyard is, how old cultures are when compared to our own... and that the food is unbelievably good." -- Roger Cunningham, Summer 2010 participant.

"The best 3 weeks of my life. I learned so much about life and myself." -- Zachery Guthrie, Summer 2010 participant.

"Going to China was probably the most mind-blowing experience! The culture was so different and interesting, the food was incredible and the people were so welcoming. I want to go back." -- Kateri Tonyan, Summer 2011 participant.

Please also see the Program Website



Tuesday, May 10
Depart Chicago

Wednesday, May 11 - Hong Kong
Arrive in Hong Kong

Thursday, May 12 - Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Friday, May 13 - Shenzhen
8:00 AM: Public transportation to Shenzhen, check into hotel
12:00 PM: Lunch
1:30 PM: Tea Stream Resort Valley in Overseas Chinese Town East
Navigate through four different theme areas in the Tea Stream Resort Valley; the Ancient Tea Town, Interlaken - a model of the famous tourist resort in Switzerland, the Wetland Garden, and the Sanzhou Tea Garden - a stop full of traditional Chinese culture, including landscapes, traditional dress, music, and tea, demonstrated through the set-up of a tea garden.

Saturday, May 14 - Travel
Shenzhen - Huaihua, Hunan

Sunday, May 15
1. Zhijiang National WWII Monument at the site of Japanese surrender, including Memorial Hall for Japan's surrender and the Flying Tigers Museum
2. Ethnic Dong Culture
3. Oil Tea (Camellia oleifera) plantation

Monday, May 16
Huaihua, Hunan - Tongren, Guizhou
Explore the preserved culture and beautiful nature of the less-developed Guizhou Province and western Hunan in China, the land of the ethnic Miao people.

Tuesday, May 16
9:00 AM: Tongren to Fenghuang by bus
Hotel check-in and lunch
Afternoon: Street strolling and observiing ethnic plant uses
Cultural Show, walk along TuoJiang River in Fenghuang

Wednesday, May 18
Mt. Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, home of Mount Fanjing, the highest peak of the Wuling Mountains and a sacred place of Buddhism

Thursday, May 19 - Travel
2:00 PM Fenghuang to Jishou
Laundry and social with local students
Stay in Jishou

Friday, May 20
Farmer's market, Kiwi Company, and Chinese medicine company
Jishou U. and social with local students
Relax time and wait for clothes to dry

Saturday, May 21 - Rent bus to Zhangjiajie
Visit home tea business, including tea field, tea making and tea tasting
Local restaurant on way
Stay in Zhangjiajie

Sunday, May 22
Tianmen (Heaven Gate) Mountain National Geology Park

Monday, May 23
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park: Yellow Rock Village and Golden Whip Stream Canyon
Stay in Suoxiyu

Tuesday, May 24
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park: Yuanjiazhai and Tianzhishan
Stay in Suoxiyu

Wednesday, May 25
Yellow Dragon Cavern and Daxiagu Canyon
Jishou - Beijing: Train K968 (1664 Km(=), depart 9:30 AM

Thursday, May 26
Arrive Beijing 7:48 PM
Hotel in Beijing: Tian Rui Hotel (Phone#: 010-68266699, Mr. Zhang Guoqing, 13911044124)
The hotel is within walking distance to Wangfujing, the best-known shopping street in Beijing. Wangfujing Cathedral, originally built in 1655, destroyed for various reasons and rebuilt several times, is a five minutes walk away. The Fobidden City is in 20 minutes walking distance.

Friday, May 27
Idle around in Wangfujing Street
Afternoon shopping excursion (?)

Saturday, May 28
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. Located in the center of Beijing, it now houses the Palace Museum. For almost 500 years, it has served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonialand political center of Chinese government.

Sunday, May 29
Great Wall

Shopping and maybe Beijing opera in the evening if there we still have a sufficient amount of funding.
Eating, packing, and rechecking your gift list and running back to Wangfujing stores!

Monday, May 30
Depart Beijing



Undergraduate option:
BIO 3970 (4 cr)
STA 3990 (4 cr) - may be substituted for EIU 4111G* (4 cr)

Honors option:
STA 3990 (4 cr) - may be substituted for EIU 4290G* (4 cr)

* senior seminar

After Your Trip:
Take STA4000G at EIU to fulfill your senior-seminar requirement!


Students will share rooms in hotels during their stay in Beijing, Zhangjiajie, and elsewhere in Hunan.


At least two pre-departure orientations will be provided and are required for all participants.

Your faculty leader will hold one of these orientations, where he/she will cover information on safety, health, legal, environmental, political, cultural, and religious conditions in the host country(ies), as well as planning logistics.

The Office of Study Abroad (OSA) will hold the other orientation. They will cover general information about traveling abroad to different areas of the world and facilitate a panel discussion composed of students who have already participated in faculty-led study abroad programs.

Necessary Documents

To enter a foreign country, you must have a valid passport. If you are a U.S. citizen and do not currently have a valid passport, or if your passport will expire during the time you will be overseas, please go to the U.S. State Department web site for information on how to apply for/renew your passport.

You are strongly encouraged to read the U.S. State Department's Consular Information Sheet on your host countries. It will provide you with a great deal of information to help you prepare for your trip.

Visa fees are included in the budget.

**Please be aware that you are responsible for obtaining the most up-to-date information on entry requirements. The Office of Study Abroad only provides general information, as visa regulations and procedures are constantly changing. Please consult the Consulate for more information. **