Fulbright Year: 2014-2015
Proposal Type: Research Grant
Field of Study: Education
Proposal Title: Education Reform in China - Decentralizing Policy in a Centralized State
UGA Undergraduate Majors: International Affairs, Political Science
Graduation Date: Summer 2013
Hometown: Roswell, Georgia
When Christian Conroy first became interested in China, he focused on the big picture issues of international security and the potential for U.S.-Sino military conflict. While visiting 14 different Chinese provinces in 2012 and 2013, funded in great part by a Boren Scholarship, he refined his research interests, focusing upon questions of political science and utilizing education policy as the framework to observe and report on political decentralization.
Christian will take leave from his current position at Global Skills X-Change in Washington, D.C., an applied behavioral research firm specializing in education research and workforce training, to return to China on a Fulbright to conduct education policy research once again, this time delving into how local and central government education policies affect student performance.
“In conjunction with Northwest University in Xi’an, I will review government education legislation, interview provincial government officials, and observe classroom instruction at primary and secondary schools in Shaanxi,” says Christian.
“Through analyzing curriculum, pedagogy, financial distribution, and metrics of student merit in classrooms in Xi’an and greater Shaanxi province, I will explore the challenges of funding national education mandates in China and better understand how education policy is crafted at the national level and subsequently funded and implemented at both the country and local level in Xi’an.”
Christian will also work closely with the Rural Education Action Program (REAP), an organization that aids students from vulnerable Chinese communities “to enhance their human capital and overcome educational obstacles so that they can escape poverty and better contribute to China’s developing economy.”
Christian, who also interned at the American Enterprise Institute and Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C., says he relishes the opportunity to observe China’s development from an on-the-ground perspective and hopes to share his findings and opinions through the printed word.
“Over the past year, I have read several books written by Peter Hessler, an American author who uses narratives about his own personal travels through China to comment on broader trends related to the country’s development,” says Christian. “It is a dream of mine to be able to write in a similar matter and even publish credible articles in publications like The New Yorker, The New Republic, and ChinaFile.
“I have researched extensively the state of education policies in rural areas of China, but I am really looking forward to engaging with teachers, students, parents, and local administrators.” At the conclusion of his Fulbright year, Christian will seek to publish an analysis of his research and plans to share his findings as an academic resource for REAP, with the hope that his translated report will wind up in other hands up the chain.
Upon his return to the U.S., Christian plans to attend a graduate program focused on East Asia and international security. “I want to apply my understanding of China’s political system to graduate-level research that focuses on reducing mutual distrust between the U.S. and China.”
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