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The CACR-GW China Open Source Research Professional Development Course (“China OSR Course”) was co-hosted in the fall of 2022 by the Center for Advanced China Research and the George Washington University’s East Asia National Resource Center. It was the first-ever national security education course aimed specifically at using open sources to analyze Chinese policy. The inaugural course recruited students and young professionals interested in using their knowledge and skills to refine US policy toward China and the Indo-Pacific from their current or future positions in government, non-profits, the private sector, and academia.

Thank you for your interest in the course. We have successfully concluded the first iteration of the course and will be back in Fall 2023. The below description and schedule for the 2022 course are being left up for informational purposes. You may subscribe to CACR’s email list or follow us on Twitter to receive notification when applications open for 2023.

Why Open Source Research?


As China’s political system becomes more closed and its information environment becomes more challenging, open sources are becoming increasingly critical to analysts. Fortunately, technology is providing new sources of information like social media and readily available satellite images. At the same time, established techniques like propaganda analysis are experiencing a resurgence among analysts eager to maintain awareness of happenings in Beijing. The China OSR Course will provide an introduction to research methods that participants can then apply to future endeavors as they contribute to the US policy process.


What Kind of Sources Will Be Covered?


The course will cover sources including authoritative PRC documents, such as propaganda and statements by senior officials; publicly available People’s Liberation Army (PLA) materials; economic and trade data; corporate records; and satellite imagery. The course outline at the end of this page lists the course topics in full.


Course Details


Classes will take place in-person at the George Washington University and will not include a remote or recorded option. The course is free of charge to participants. 


For each class session, a subject matter expert will lead a lecture introducing the basics of a given topic and concluding with a small group exercise putting participants’ new skills to use. For example, participants will have a chance to glean insights from People’s Daily, deduce Chinese moves on the ground based on satellite imagery, and parse out geopolitically significant information from publicly available economic data.


Masks are required per current GW public health protocols. This requirement may be subject to change according to GW policies, CDC guidance, District of Columbia guidance, and overall COVID-19 caseloads in the area. 

Transportation to GW


GW is easily accessible by Metro from the Foggy Bottom-GWU stop on the Blue, Orange, and Silver Lines. GW also operates several parking garages around the Foggy Bottom campus. More information on parking is available here.


Application Qualifications and Process


All applicants must be US citizens with an interest in national security and foreign policy education. Participants must also have advanced Chinese-language research skills and the ability to pass a virtually administered and timed language assessment.


Applicants should provide the following materials to China OSR Course Deputy Director Dr. Scott Wingo at by Monday, September 12:


  1. A statement of purpose of 250 words or less explaining why the applicant is interested

  2. Resume (one page)

  3. A list of 3 references (including reference’s name, title, affiliation, email address, and phone number)


Course Outline: Fall 2022 (October 5 to December 14) 
Classes will meet weekly from 7:00-9:00 PM, mostly on Wednesdays and occasionally on Tuesdays.

(Subject to Revision)

1. The China Documentation Center at Gelman Library
Prof. David Shambaugh, George Washington University
2. Introduction to Chinese Foreign Policy
Prof. David Shambaugh, George Washington University
3. Reading Authoritative PRC Documents
Prof. Joseph Fewsmith, Boston University
4. Tracking PRC Elite Politics
Dr. Cheng Li, Brookings Institution
5. Taiwan, China, and the United States
Prof. Robert Sutter, George Washington University
6. Researching the People’s Liberation Army
Mr. Peter Mattis, Special Competitive Studies Project
7. Researching the Chinese Economy and Trade
Dr. Scott Wingo, Center for Advanced China Research
8. Researching PRC Companies
Ms. Leysi Ortega, Sayari Labs
9. Analyzing PRC Social Media
10. Analyzing Open Source Imagery
Dr. Renny Babiarz, AllSource Analysis and Johns Hopkins University
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