2007-2008 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.

  • The Health of Financial Systems in Developing East Asia

Ten years after the Asian Crisis, developing Asia appears to be doing well economically.  While the trajectory of economic growth appears to have slowed relative to pre-Crisis rates, the region continues to grow at about a seven percent rate; current accounts are generally in surplus; budgets are generally under control; and foreign exchange reserves are burgeoning.  However, a main culprit of the Asian Crisis resulted from insufficiencies with respect to development of the financial sector and related institutions, such as monitoring and surveillance mechanisms.  Proposals are welcome that address questions such as: has the strong rebound in Asia reduced the drive toward modernization of the respective financial sectors in developing East Asia?  What remains to be done and how can the region get there?

  • 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. 

  • Pollution 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.

  • China ’s Capitalist Transition

Although in terms of speed and scale the developments unfolding in China are without parallel in the past, researchers seek to conceive of China’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—and interpret China’s international emergence 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, ie, 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; the role of institution-building in shaping the Chinese political realm; the development of legal institutional constraints and continued obstacles to an autonomous sphere of law; and other phenomena (e.g., income inequalities; new social forces) that express how China’s capitalist transition is fundamentally affecting China’s polity and economy?

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.

  • Market Economic reform and Reproductive Health Challenges in China: Needs for Improvements in Maternal Health Care and Infant Mortality

Disparities between different sectors of the population in well-being and in access to health care services have emerged in the wake of economic development and following a radical, nationwide process of privatization. Concern is growing regarding the impact of China’s policies in the sphere of maternal health services. Reproductive health challenges in China have and will impact other facets of Chinese life. Among these, researchers are studying the impact of market economic reform on disparities in maternal health care services and their consequences on infant mortality in China, especially in rural areas. Some of the key issues related to this issue are: impacts of socio-economic environment and policies on the use of maternal health care services; effects of socioeconomic development, poverty, policies, and access to maternal health care services on subsequent reproductive health outcomes, especially infant mortality. Meeting the goal of universal access to comprehensive reproductive health services no later than 2015 remains a key issue of reproductive health officials in China.

Proposals that address the availability and use of maternal health care, the effects of socioeconomic development on health outcomes, infant mortality and related topics are welcome.

  • New Understandings of the Rural-Urban Transition

Both rapid urban growth and the emergence of extraordinary mega-urban regions are phenomena widely recognized across Asia, but research has focused primarily on issues relating to the very largest cities. Research that aims to characterize and understand the ongoing transformations of national settlement systems is needed in order to inform policy and programs. The transformations of interest include dramatic changes at all urban scales including the smallest towns and rural communities as well as the largest cities. The powerful sources of recent settlement system changes include the demographic transitions well underway or completed in many countries. The sharp decline in reproduction has often led to the reemergence of urban migration as a major source of urban growth, and at the later stages, to slowed population growth or even significant population decline in many local areas across Asia. There is a diversity of patterns between the very variable population growth experience of rural areas, among towns and cities of intermediate size and, the widespread expansion of the largest cities.

Proposals that draw upon small-area data from one or more national censuses to address problems of conceptualizing and measuring the full range of rural-to-urban transformation are particularly sought. Approaches might include the application of small-area data analysis techniques and a GIS framework to charting recent settlement system changes and developing scenarios for the future.

  • Very Low Fertility in East Asia

At the present time, most East Asian countries have an average fertility of below 1.5 children per woman. Low fertility has also been a policy issue in Europe. Although there is a considerable body of research on the impact of very low fertility on population aging and economic growth, less is known about the causes of very low fertility and the impact of government policies and programs aimed at raising fertility. There is also a growing consensus that country-level institutional factors play a large role in separating those countries with low and very low fertility  Proposals are invited that examine institutions involved including education systems, the family, housing market, religious institutions, and the economy. In this context, causes of fertility are broadly viewed, covering social, economic, technological, political, legal, and other factors. Social factors include changes in traditional family systems, as well as the diffusion of new values and ideas. Projects might also address methodological innovations for analyzing the causes of fertility decline and the impacts of policies and programs.