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40 Years of promoting the study of China in schools

SPICE has been transformed from a small local high school program begun by Professor Victor Hao Li (formerly of Stanford Law School), a number of Stanford students, a visionary group of nearby teachers and educators, and me in 1973 into a major national project. SPICE began as a modest start-up focused on Asia and has evolved into an extraordinary asset contributing to broad global education. It is an honor to have been in on the beginning of such a noble effort.

—John Lewis, William Haas Professor of Chinese Politics (Emeritus); Center for International Security and Cooperation faculty member

Today, the efforts of the Stanford Program on International and Cross Cultural Education (SPICE) to internationalize the K–12 classroom span a broad range of topics—security, the arts, the environment, global health, and international relations. With the dawn of 2013, SPICE looks back to its roots and celebrates 40 years of promoting the study of China. The roots of the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE) date back to the Bay Area China Education Project (BAYCEP), which commenced operation in 1973. John Lewis was instrumental in the founding of BAYCEP, and several other scholars of Chinese studies, including Albert Dien, Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures (Emeritus), were actively involved in BAYCEP’s early years and still remain involved with SPICE today.

The first director of BAYCEP was Dr. David Grossman, SPICE’s founding director. He noted the following about the creation of BAYCEP:

“The original impetus was the Nixon visit to China in 1972, and the realization that the general public and students were not prepared for this radical shift in geopolitics. The problem was how to bridge this profound knowledge gap.” 

Economic Choices unit cover image
A BAYCEP publication from the 1980s

The purpose of BAYCEP was to serve as a bridge between Stanford experts on China and K–12 schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. This was accomplished in two ways—China-focused curriculum development and teacher professional development. By 1976, other projects on Japan, Africa, and Latin America were established, and they along with BAYCEP came to form the nucleus of SPICE.

Continuing the 40-year tradition of teacher professional development on China, SPICE staff members Jonas Edman, Naomi Funahashi, Rylan Sekiguchi, and Johanna Wee recently collaborated with Dr. Clayton Dube, Executive Director, U.S.–China Institute, University of Southern California, to lead a series of China-centered sessions at the annual European Council of International Schools November Conference. The sessions were held in Nice, France, from November 22 through 25, 2012, and included an intensive daylong institute called “China in the Humanities.” The institute comprised four theme-specific mini-sessions—Dynasties, Cultural Revolution, Rural and Urban China, and China in the World—each of which involved both a lecture and a pedagogically-focused curriculum demonstration. The featured SPICE-developed curriculum units (with primary Stanford academic advisors listed) were Chinese Dynasties Parts One and Two (Albert Dien, Professor Emeritus); China's Cultural Revolution (Andrew Walder, Professor, Sociology); China in Transition: Economic Development, Migration, and Education (Scott Rozelle, Director, Rural Education Action Project); 10,000 Shovels (Karen Seto, former Assistant Professor, School of Earth Sciences); and Divided Memories (Gi-Wook Shin, Professor, Sociology, and Director, Shorenstein Asia Pacific Research Center, and Daniel Sneider, Associate Director, Shorenstein Asia Pacific Research Center).

China in Transition Cover image
Authored by Rylan Sekiguchi, Curriculum Specialist, and HyoJung Jang, Curriculum Writer

As SPICE moves into its fifth decade, the staff will continue its China-focused curriculum development and teacher professional development seminars. SPICE recently began developing a curriculum unit on sustainable development in China in consultation with Len Ortolano, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering. Also, from January 2013, SPICE will begin its twelfth year of offering two 30-hour seminars on East Asia—one for middle school teachers and one for high school teachers. The seminars feature lectures by FSI and Center for East Asian Studies faculty and curriculum demonstrations by SPICE staff that focus on China, and other northeast Asian nations.

In addition, SPICE plans to create of a high school student-focused national distance-learning course on China that is parallel to SPICE’s current distance-learning course offerings, which include the Reischauer Scholars Program on Japan and the Sejong Korean Scholars Program.

With Stanford President John Hennessy’s announcement of the K–12 initiative in 2006, Stanford renewed its long-time commitment to improving public education in the United States. SPICE will continue to make FSI scholarship in the areas of security, the arts, the environment, global health, and international relations accessible to young students. FSI believes it has the opportunity and the obligation to utilize its resources to help address issues facing our schools.