Nancy Lewis, former Director of the East-West Center's Research Program, and Jeff Fox, the Center's new Director of Research

The East-West Center Research Program works with research and policy communities in the US and the Asia Pacific to provide more complete knowledge and deeper understanding of environments, societies, economies, governments, and international relations in the region. Research is conducted in close collaboration with networks of individuals and institutions throughout Asia and the Pacific and is shared broadly with planners, policymakers, regional specialists, the media, and the general public.

Jefferson Fox is the New Director of the EWC Research Program

The new Director of the Research Program, Jeff Fox, has been a Senior Fellow at the Center since 1985. He conducts research on land-use and land-cover change in Asia and the impact of this change on the regional and global environment. Other areas of study have included: resource-management systems and land-cover transitions in montane mainland Southeast Asia; spatial information technology and society; and natural resources and violent ethnic conflict in the Asia Pacific region. He has worked with watershed management projects in Nepal, and lectured in the Geography Department at Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Dr. Fox holds a Ph.D. in Development Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Nancy Davis Lewis is retiring after serving 16 years as the Center’s Research Program Director. She will continue as an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center, focusing on global environmental change and health as well as gender and climate-change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. Building on four decades of work in the Pacific Islands, she will support the Center’s Pacific Island Development Program and will also work with colleagues across the Center on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 5, empowering women and girls. As immediate past President of the Pacific Science Association, she will serve on the Executive Board and will continue with several other professional commitments.

Recent Activities

The East-West Center’s Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (Pacific RISA) program helps communities in Hawai'i and the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands anticipate and adapt to a changing climate. Recent activities in Hawai'i include an assessment of the effects of future climate change on freshwater resources on Maui and Oahu. In the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Pacific RISA is evaluating the impact of climate change on human migration. The Pacific RISA program is also leading the development of the Pacific Islands chapter of the fourth US National Climate Assessment, mandated by Congress and scheduled for release in 2018.


The Asian International Justice Initiative (AIJI), a collaboration between the East-West Center and the WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Stanford University, conducts collaborative projects on international justice, judicial reform, the rule of law, and human rights, including legal procedures for gender-based crimes. In Cambodia, the AIJI team monitors proceedings of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, produces weekly reports, and disseminates information on the Tribunal through documentary films, television programs, and social media. In Indonesia, AIJI is working with local organizations to strengthen Anti-Corruption Courts and is providing human rights training to government officials, the judiciary, and civil society. AIJI also provides training on international criminal law to judges in the Philippines and prosecutors in Timor Leste.

The Counting Women’s Work project is documenting and sharing new insights into women’s economic contributions, both at home and in the marketplace. Coordinated by the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Cape Town, and the East-West Center, national research teams are collecting data and developing new methods to disaggregate men's and women's market work and wages and to measure the value of unpaid care and housework, most often provided by women. This framework makes it possible to quantify the potential barrier that household responsibilities pose to women's education and participation in market work, the excess total work time that most women spend relative to men, and the "hidden" costs of children.


The East-West Wire, a long-standing media service provided by the East-West Center, has recently increased coverage of findings and commentary from the Research Program. The latest issue, "New Priorities and Challenges for America's Pacific Military Command," reports on a symposium co-hosted by the Center and Keio University’s Global Research Institute. It features comments by Research Program Senior Fellow Denny Roy, among others.  

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Selected Publications by East-West Center Authors

Misunderstanding North Korea, by Denny Roy. 2017. AsiaPacific Issues No. 133. Honolulu: East-West Center.

It is important to dispense with four common misunderstandings about North Korea. First, characterizations of the regime as irrational are wrong. Second, Pyongyang is extremely unlikely to exchange its nuclear weapons for greater trade opportunities with democratic countries. Third, the option of using military action to stop North Korea's missile program is not "on the table." Finally, depending on China to solve the problem is fruitless because the Chinese fear a collapse of the regime more than they fear a nuclear-armed North Korea.

Cost of aging, by Ronald Lee and Andrew Mason. 2017. Finance & Development [quarterly publication of the International Monetary Fund]. 54(1). (March).

A graying population means more elderly people who may not support themselves entirely from their own assets or labor income. But it may also bring more capital per worker and rising productivity and wages. Whether population aging is good or bad for the economy will depend, in large part, on how well public policy adjusts to new demographic realities.

Does unplanned urbanization pose a disease risk in Asia? The case of avian influenza in Vietnam, by Sumeet Saksena, Nong Huu Duong, Melissa Finucane, James H. Spencer, Chinh C. Tran, and Jefferson Fox. 2017. AsiaPacific Issues No. 128. Honolulu: East-West Center.

Research into the possible link between unplanned urban expansion and disease outbreaks compared patterns of land-use change in Vietnam with outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI, subtype H5N1). The study found that "peri-urban" areas had a much larger risk of experiencing an H5N1 outbreak than did other parts of the country.

International criminal justice and Southeast Asia: Approaches to ending impunity for mass atrocities, by Emma Palmer and Christoph Sperfeldt. 2016. AsiaPacific Issues No. 126. Honolulu: East-West Center.

Only 3 of 11 states in Southeast Asia have ratified the UN Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, designed to end impunity for the worst mass atrocities. Various bodies are working to promote ratification of the Statute in the region. There is also scope to tackle the problem by building a regional consensus.

More Publications by East-West Center Authors…

EWC Research in the News

13 September 2017—Taiwan Activist's Subversion Case Pushes Relations with China to Another Low, Voice of America: Denny Roy

“Beijing has been in the mode of demonstrating that China is not happy with Taiwan and can cause Taiwan pain in a variety of ways,” said Denny Roy, Senior Fellow at the East-West Center. “In that sense, Beijing welcomes a deterioration of relations with Taiwan.”

4 September 2017Local Experts Weigh in on Impact of N. Korean Nuclear Test, Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Denny Roy

Denny Roy, a Senior Fellow at the East-West Center, saidthe latest round of bomb and missile tests is part of an ongoing cycle in which North Korean provocations prompt the United States to consider—and ultimately dismiss—military response. Each cycle typically ends with the United States putting increased pressure on China to rein in its regional trade partner, and China, often through private channels, signaling that it will do what it can.“The biggest groan of dismay this weekend probably came from Beijing,” Roy said.

11 August 2017—North Korea aside, Guam faces another threat: Climate change, New York Times: Victoria Keener

"Because Guam is not particularly low-lying, it probably would be less vulnerable to the effects of rising sea levels than an island such as Kwajalein Atoll, where Lockheed Martin is building a $915 million radar system for the United States Air Force," according to Victoria Keener, Research Fellow at the East-West Center. "But Guam’s topography is no guarantee that its climate adaptation projects will be effective over the long term."

," said Victoria Keener, a Research Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu. "The adaptation work includes research… on coastal infrastructure in tourist areas, as well as a Pentagon-financed study to explore how climate change may affect the island’s freshwater resources."

4 August 2017How this US Tech giant is backing China’s tech ambitions, New York Times: Dieter Ernst (also appears on CNBC and on the BizLive website in Vietnamese)

“’These days a smartphone is covered by about 250,000 patents," said Dieter Ernst, a senior fellow at the East-West Center, a research and educational center based in Honolulu. "A Chinese smartphone maker needs to negotiate license agreements with companies like Qualcomm that own the essential patents. The Chinese government was worried about this," he added. "That all these costs could constrain Chinese companies."

8 July 2017 Footloose and fancy-free: Retirement is out, new portfolio careers are in and Your money and your life: Financing longevity, The Economist: Andrew Mason

If people in "older" countries, such as Germany, Japan and Spain, were to delay retirement by 2–2.5 years per decade between 2010 and 2050, it would be enough to offset the effect of expanding elderly populations, according to Andrew Mason, of the University of Hawaii, and Ronald Lee, of the University of California, Berkeley.

More East-West Center in the News…

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