2009-2010 Visiting Fellow Thematic Areas
  • An Interdisciplinary Framework for Emerging Infectious Disease (EID) Risk Assessment

Emerging and reemerging infectious diseases, coupled with failures in public health infrastructure, present serious challenges to the global community. A comprehensive understanding of EID demands a holistic framework that incorporates physical, social, and biological dimensions and focuses on the intersection of human and natural systems. There is a clear and immediate need to develop a better understanding of the nature, distribution and transmission of individual pathogens in the context of rapidly changing natural and social systems. Based on decades of research on land use and land cover change in the region, researchers at the East-West Center are exploring the relative importance of EID risk associated with different factors in disease emergence and distribution, which in turn can be used both to identify geographic 'hotspots' for specific EID’s as well as providing a basis for policy guidance in the form of intervention. Proposals which explore different risk factors in infectious disease emergence or examine the interplay between natural and social systems involved in the emergence or reemergence of infectious disease are welcome.

  • Sustainable Energy Strategy in China and Sino-U.S. Cooperation on Energy and Climate Control

Cooperation between China and the US on broad energy and environmental issues will yield benefits to both countries as well as to the whole world. To what extent energy conservation and alternate/renewable energies play a role in lowering the overall dominance of coal in China’s energy production and moving the country away from fossil fuel reliance in the future is an issue of perennial concern. This is not simply an issue for China because of the unprecedented environmental pollution and health risks domestically, but is also a health issue for the US because spreading air pollutants from China have been reported to have reached US shores. Moreover, China is already the world’s second largest oil importer behind the US.

If cooperation leads to the transfer and deployment of clean technologies in China, the need for fossil fuels will be reduced and alternative energy sources will rise to meet a larger portion of the nation’s energy needs. This change will reduce China’s growing hunger for foreign oil, leave more oil on the market, and thus help to stabilize oil prices. The US should see significant benefit from this shift in decreased spending on oil and lessened potential conflict between the two countries on the current and emerging oil fields. Furthermore, the US and China are the world’s largest and second largest CO 2 emitters. To the extent that the US and China get involved in combating global climate change, their cooperation can lead to lowering compliance costs of climate mitigation and adaptation and for moving the international climate negotiations forward. Proposals that explore energy efficient and environmentally friendly energy development strategies in China are welcome as well as China-U.S. energy cooperation. 

  •   Assessing Risk from Vegetation Fires

Conservatively estimated at $4.5 billion, the damage from the fires and haze in Southeast Asia (1997-1998) was more than the combined damage assessed for the Exxon Valdez oil spill and India’s Bhopal chemical disaster. Slash-and-burn methods of cultivation have largely been blamed for this. Though this is mainly an anthropogenic problem; climate phenomenon such as El Nino have aggravated the situation. The problem of burning agricultural residues is severe, but the practice has received less attention than the role of slash and burn cultivation.  Proposals that address human exposure, health, land use and land cover change, spatial modeling including GIS, atmospheric modeling and links to climate change are welcome.  Projects that employ quantitative methods will be given priority.

  • Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in the Asia-Pacific Region

Climate change presents serious environmental, health, economic, and governance challenges to the Asia-Pacific region. An interdisciplinary approach is needed to understand the interplay of physical and social dimensions of climate change and to develop effective ways of mitigating and adapting to climate risks.  Researchers at the East-West Center are exploring the impacts of climate change on ecosystems, human health, and various economic sectors (and the inter-relations among these impacts), the role of different countries in addressing climate change, how the resilience of vulnerable communities might be increased, how climate data can be communicated most effectively, natural disaster risk management, and the socio-cultural aspects of understanding and responding to climate risks. Proposals that examine how the interplay of physical and social systems amplifies or attenuates climate risks for populations in the Asia-Pacific region are welcome.  Priority will be given to proposals that focus on policy making about mitigation and adaptation strategies.

  • China’s Capitalist Transition

Although in terms of speed and scale the developments unfolding in China are without parallel in the past, the China’s Capitalist Transition project conceives of the country's stunning ascent as driven by the same historical dynamic that catapulted Great Britain, the United States, Germany, and Japan to international prominence–the emergence of a capitalist political economy. China’s international emergence therefore is interpreted from a comparatively and historically conscious viewpoint. Proposals that analyze specific features of China’s capitalist transition, especially those which put China’s transition in a broad theoretical, comparative and historical context are welcome. One important area of emphasis is the international repercussions of China’s capitalist transition, i.e., how is “China’s rise” affecting the country’s foreign policy stance, international integration, and regional relations? And, domestically, how is China’s transition affecting the growing influence of capital-owning strata on the Chinese political economy? What is the role of institution-building in shaping the Chinese political realm? How are legal institutional constraints developing? What are the continued obstacles to an autonomous sphere of law? Other phenomena (e.g., income inequalities; new social forces) that express how China’s capitalist transition is fundamentally affecting China’s polity and economy are of interest as well.

Scholars with an interdisciplinary background and interest in or prior research regarding China's economy, politics, society, and international relations are particularly encouraged to apply. Ability to read and/or speak Mandarin is also a plus.

  • Deepening Democracy in South Asia: Issues and Trends

Over the past few years, major political, economic and social transformations have been taking place in the South Asian Countries. As a stable democracy, India is playing an expanding role in the global economy. The rate of economic growth in India and Pakistan has been one of the highest in the world. With the lessening of tensions between the two traditional rivals, the opportunities for regional trade and cooperation have increased. Democratic institutions and processes in Pakistan and Nepal have been restored. Despite these and other gains, the South Asian countries continue to lag behind other countries in Asia and the Pacific on the United Nations' Human Development Index (HDI). Internal conflicts, terrorism, inadequate basic social services and violence are negatively affecting human security.

Making governance both democratic and effective is one of the key challenges of the South Asian Countries in order to promote political legitimacy and take full advantage of the opportunities provided by rapid globalization. Enhanced democratic governance capacities in South Asia are essential to promote growth with equity, environmental protection, and participation of citizens. While many countries have the structures of democracy, the quality of the democratic process is low leading to a lack of trust in government. Of particular importance are checks and balances between the executive and the legislative branches, civil society engagement, protection of human rights especially minorities and other disadvantaged groups, independence of the judiciary, freedom of media, and transparency in government.

Proposals that address the impact of democratic governance capacity on economic growth, the civil society engagement in democratic change, combating corruption, state capacity and new skills required for the global economy, the role of media in setting the democratic governance agenda, and related topics are welcome.

  • Rapidly Falling Fertility in Asia

Fertility has been falling rapidly in most countries of Asia, sometimes to very low levels. Currently most East Asian countries have an average fertility of below 1.5 children per woman, and in some of these countries governments are trying to raise fertility. By contrast, in some parts of South and Southeast Asia, fertility, though falling, is still fairly high. The causes of falling fertility are incompletely understood, especially the fall to well-below-replacement fertility and the impact of government efforts to raise fertility. There is a growing consensus that country-level institutional factors play a large role in explaining very low fertility. Relevant institutional factors may include, for example, the education system, family type, the housing market, the labor market, and religious institutions.

Proposals are invited that examine the causes of falling fertility and/or the causes of very low fertility. In this context, the causes of fertility are broadly viewed, covering social, economic, technological, political, environmental, legal, and other factors, as well as the diffusion of new values and ideas. Proposals may also focus on the development or application of methodological innovations for analyzing the causes of fertility decline and the impacts of policies and programs.

  • Population Aging and the Generational Economy

Countries in Asia will experience rapid population aging over the coming decades with implications for economic growth, generational equity, and the fiscal health of their economies.  The economic support systems for the elderly are complex and evolving.  The elderly depend to varying degrees on continued employment, public programs (particularly pension and health care programs), financial wealth, and their families.

Proposals are invited that address how and why these support systems are evolving in Asia, the economic implications of population aging and the institutional system for supporting the elderly, and the likely impact on the elderly and generational equity of the economic crisis.