May 16 – June 13, 2016

Application deadline: February 2, 2016

COM 382 Digital Publishing | Communication Studies Department | Aimee Knight, PhD

In May 2016 students will embark on a hands-on learning experience unlike any other as we explore the many landscapes of China – a vibrant nation where a 5,000-year-old civilization meets the modern world. We will be creating  documentary videos — *guides for students, by students* for many of the locations we visit.  Our digital docs will be published and shared via a variety of digital platforms throughout our journey.

Information and application at: China Study Tour: Center for International Programs.

Course objectives: 

  • To examine the contemporary digital storytelling movement in China
  • To explore practical, technical, and theoretical aspects of cross-cultural documentary video production and digital storytelling techniques
  • To learn and perform various digital audio-video production techniques including audio field recording, microphone use, digital photography, video recording, video editing, and digital storytelling. No experience necessary, just a willingness to experiment.
  • To share, publish and promote original photo and video content on digital platforms (including Vimeo, Medium, Instagram)

Eligible Students:

  • Students who are in good financial standing and who are not on academic or disciplinary probation or deferred suspension may apply
  • Open to all students: Both SJU and non-SJU students may apply
  • COM 382 is an upper-level elective course for COM Majors and minors
  • Approximate cost estimated at $5950 (not including 3-credit summer tuition of $1670)


Our home base will be situated beside the famed West Lake in Hangzhou. The lake is surrounded by a lush green shoreline, with views of majestic mountains, ancient temples, traditional pagodas and graceful bridges. 

Hangzhou city tour, private boat tour of West Lake in Hangzhou, Impressions West Lake Show, Lingyin Temple



Throughout our time in China we will take numerous excursions, traveling by high speed train:

Beijing (Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Lama Temple, Temple of Heaven, full-day Rickshaw Hutong Tour, Great Wall at Juyongguan



Shanghai (Bund, Yu Garden, Old Town Tour

Evening in Lijiang


Xi’an Xi’an: Terracotta Warriors, Wild Goose Pagoda, the Great Mosque of Xi’an, bike tour of Xi’an city wall

Luoyang: Luoyang Museum and Longmen Grottoes

Terra Cotta


Questions: please contact or

Applications  dueFebruary 2, 2016: China Study Tour Information and Application.


Required Texts

  • Cross Cultural Filmmaking: A Handbook for Making Documentary and Ethnographic Films and Videos, by Ilisa Barbash, Lucien Taylor (1997)
  • Lonely Planet China (2015)
  • PDFs: Selected readings from Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams; Getting Your Shot; Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community
  • Film Screenings: As many independent films as we can see as well as well as classics such as Up the Yangtze (2007); A Bite of China (2014); Last Train Home (2009); Wild China (2008); and independent films by Ai Weiwei, Li Luo, Hu Jie, Zou Xueping and Yang Mingming.


20% Reading and viewing responses  (10 @ 2%) Reading and viewing responses demonstrate engagement with the ideas in the assigned course material in class (book chapters, articles, films, talks, websites, etc). Responses should contain observable signs of notable effort, thinking, and involvement. An effective response will demonstrate that you have thoroughly read/watched and understood the material (or that you ask compelling questions that reveal careful reading). It will develop connections between the material and the themes of the course and demonstrate that you have considered the implications of the materials. A reading/viewing response is not a summary of your reading/viewing, but a response to a way of thinking about the material. Responses are not formal papers, but should be carefully written nevertheless. Be specific about the works you’re discussing, give details to back up any assertions you may make, include references, page numbers and citations when appropriate, and finally, pay attention to grammar and mechanics. Responses should be approximately 400 words in length.

80% Collaborative video documentary (4 @ 20% each) This course integrates digital media theory with practice as we take this opportunity to examine the contemporary digital storytelling movement in China, including works from Ai Weiwei, Li Luo, Hu Jie, Zou Xueping and Yang Mingming. While on location you will be working on production teams to complete four short video documentaries. These video documentaries will  involve destination research, storyboarding, field recording, photography, video, and interviewing, as well as post-production editing and coloring. You will be evaluated on your ability to 1) integrate research, image, and sound into your portion of the documentary [about 5 minutes], 2) draw on the conventions of the travel documentary genre, 3) produce a captivating and technically well-produced piece.