Since 1988, the University of Illinois has conducted, every other year, a seven week summer workshop at Tongji University in Shanghai. This program is open to junior, senior and graduate level students enrolled in the School of Architecture, the Department of Landscape Architecture, or the Department of Urban and Regional Planning on the Urbana-Champaign campus. The enrollment for this program is approximately 12 to 20 students.
The curriculum of this program includes an Evening Seminar Series and an optional but strongly recommended Chinese language course in the spring prior to the summer experience. The seminar is conceived as an orientation program for the students and faculty traveling to China in the summer. The most significant academic focus of the program is delivered in Shanghai at Tongji University by 15 to 20 prominent university professors and design professionals in the forms of lectures and workshops on topics including Chinese landscape, architecture, urban planning, vernacular building, garden design, history, traditional watercolor and calligraphy, Chinese opera, and language. The summers curriculum requirements also include the development of a travel journal modeled on the travel journals of prominent designers and planners, and a series of field trips and studio workshops focused on developing a better understanding of architecture, landscape and planning of Chinese towns and villages. Chinas long history and rich culture combine to provide an unparalleled setting for studying the evolution of urban and rural settlement forms. The travel itinerary includes watertowns little evolved from their medieval beginnings, to the imperial splendors of Beijing, to the European influenced Bund in Shanghai, and to the Buddhist Temple Enclaves of Wu Taishan.